For the first time ever, a Martian Rover has detected boron traces on Mars, a fact that may indicate the planet’s ability to have potentially held life.
Mars has quite come to be considered as the next frontier. An increasing number of agencies are trying to reach the surface of the Red Surface. Some are envisioning a future human space colony. Others are targeting a Martian rover landing.
A recent discovery has brought forth new information about the Martian rock composition. The new finding belongs to the Curiosity rover.
Curiosity is part of the NASA Mars mission. As it was designed to have a 23 months long mission, it has already exceeded its timeframe. The rover has been on for over 4 years. It has helped gather a multitude of invaluable data.
Its latest find may help strengthen a well-known theory. This holds that Mars may have once been able to sustain life.
The Curiosity’s ChemCam just recently discovered boron traces. Boron is a somewhat rare chemical element. On our planet, it is only found in the Earth’s crust.
Boron’s most common compounds are water-soluble. This helps in the industrial practices of borate minerals extractions.
Reports state that these are the first ever-recorded boron traces on the Red Planet. If they turn out to be similar to those on Earth, they could offer knowledge on Mars’s groundwater.
More specifically, its ancient groundwater. If similar to its terrestrial neighbors, it would have had to been around 32 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
Such temperatures, as well as the pH, could point to the planet’s potential habitability. The dissolved mineral content registered in such groundwater would also contribute.
The Curiosity detected boron traces are already raising questions. Scientists have yet to agree what they could mean.
Two possibilities have been the most vehiculated. They both seek to explain how it was that boron still exists in the planet’s veins.
One possibility targets a potential drying out of a part of the Gale lake. This would have resulted in a boron-rich deposit. Kept in an overlying layer, it would still have to be found by the rover. Boron traces could have been carried by groundwater into the rock rocks.
Another theory would target changes in the deposits’ chemistry. As such, groundwater could have modified boron pick up and drop off places. It would have modified the local sediments.
Boron traces are just one of the recent life-related discoveries. Curiosity has been studying the Martian rock composition. This revealed changes in the ancient environmental changes.
It shows how wet undergrounds and lakes changed some many billions of years ago. All these changes would have affected their microbial life favorability.
By advancing in research and also in altitude height, the discoveries also change. These, as well as other variations, can tell quite a bit about the initial sediment deposits.
More clay and boron traces were spotted as the rover climbed uphill. Curiosity’s trek upwards is expected to bring even more new data.
Researchers have pointed out the great complexity of the former clay-bearing sediment deposits and lake environments.
According to a scientist, such sedimentary basins have worked as reactors. As elements get rearranged, new ones appear whilst the older dissolve. On Earth, such reactions helped generate life.
No definite traces of Martian life have been found. As such, it is yet to be determined if the planet has ever held life.
The NASA Curiosity rover was specifically sent in the Gale crater area. Its newest mission is to detect and help determine the existence of potential life traces.
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