Curiosity Mars Rover Finds Soil Similar to Hawaii’s
Nasa’s Curiosity rover has found soil on Mars to be similar to Hawaii’s after sifting and scanning its first sample on the Red Planet. The robot’s CheMin instrument shook out fine particles of soil and fired X-rays at them to determine their composition. These sandy samples should give clues about Mars’ recent geological history. As had been theorized, much of the sample is made of weathered “basaltic” materials of volcanic origin, like that seen on the islands of Hawaii. The sample seems to contain dust carried from afar by Mars’ global-scale storms, as well as coarser sand of more local provenance.
The next step was to deliver soil samples into another ground-breaking experiment within the rover – Sam, or the Sample Analysis at Mars instrument. Sam will look for the presence of organic, or carbon-containing, molecules that should give hints about the prospects for life on the Red Planet both now and in the distant past.