A rock crushed under the Curiosity Mars rover’s wheels has dazzled mission scientists in more ways than one.
Mars is supposed to be the Red Planet, but the rock - dubbed "Tintina" - is a brilliant shade of white.
The unusual colour indicates the presence of hydrated minerals that formed when water flowed through the robot’s landing site in ancient times.
Water-bearing minerals in Tintina and elsewhere add to the growing catalogue of water evidence at this location.
Rover team members have been presenting mission findings at the 44th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (LPSC) in The Woodlands, Texas.
It was also announced that the rover has suffered another computer glitch; Curiosity had already been recovering from a memory problem discovered earlier in the month.
The description of hydrated minerals at Gale Crater follows an announcement last week that Curiosity had found clay minerals in a rock it had drilled. These clays indicate formation in, or substantial alteration by, neutral water.
That is significant for showing that conditions on the Red Planet could have supported life in the distant past, because many rocks studied previously were probably deposited in acidic water.
Speaking here in The Woodlands, near Houston, chief scientist John Grotzinger described Curiosity’s landing site as the first truly habitable environment found on Mars.
"What we’re really excited about is that this is the first time we’ve been able to follow through with a whole suite of different measurements that really demonstrate the place we found at Gale Crater was a very viable, habitable environment," he told BBC News.
Prof Grotzinger added that the team "felt really good" about the Martian location.
The one-tonne Nasa rover has been exploring Gale Crater, near the Martian equator, since touching down in August 2012. It drove over Tintina on 17 January, breaking it open to expose the dazzling white interior.
EU on high alert as Germany accepts Ebola patients 2014 07 30
A German hospital has agreed to treat Ebola patients amid widespread fears of a possible outbreak of the deadly disease in Europe. Over 670 people have already been killed by the disease in West Africa with doctors struggling to control the epidemic.
A German hospital in Hamburg agreed to accept patients following a request from the World Health Organization (WHO), Deutsche ...
Bolivia declares Israel terrorist regime 2014 07 30
Bolivia has declared Israel a “terrorist state” and revoked a visa exemption agreement with Tel Aviv in protest at the ongoing Israeli attacks on the besieged Gaza Strip.
The move "means, in other words, we are declaring (Israel) a terrorist state," President Evo Morales said during talks with a group of educators in the city of Cochabamba ...
Pagan Traditions: Mysteries of medieval graffiti in England’s churches 2014 07 30
Medieval graffiti of straw kings, pentagrams, crosses, ships and "demon traps" have been offering a tantalising glimpse into England’s past. What do the pictures reveal about life in the Middle Ages?
A project to record the graffiti, which began in Norfolk, has now been rolled out to other areas and is gradually spreading across England.
Armed with just a torch and a ...
More Gigantic Holes Appear in Siberia’s ’End of the World’ 2014 07 30 Is it the end of the world in Siberia’s ’End of the World’?
Scientists suspect not, but they’re still investigating the strange and alarming holes that are swallowing up the Siberian north.
This week two new holes have been discovered, and with similar characteristics as the first reported hole: a very deep shaft with smooth sides, debris surrounding the rim, and water ...
BLACKLISTED: The Secret Government Rulebook For Labeling You a Terrorist 2014 07 30 The Obama administration has quietly approved a substantial expansion of the terrorist watchlist system, authorizing a secret process that requires neither “concrete facts” nor “irrefutable evidence” to designate an American or foreigner as a terrorist, according to a key government document obtained by The Intercept.
The “March 2013 Watchlisting Guidance,” a 166-page document issued last year by the National Counterterrorism Center, ...