NASA’s Curiosity Rover has found opal gems on Mars.
NASA rovers on Mars have been looking for clues to water or any other source of life. Now, in a big surprise, NASA’s Curiosity Rover, which has been exploring the surface of Mars, has found water-rich opal gems on the planet. “More than just a shimmering stone, opal — which is rich in water — has now been found in Mars’ Gale Crater by NASA’s Curiosity Rover,” a report by space.com said.
“In both older and newer Curiosity images, they (researchers) noticed fracture halos, rings of light-colored sediment, that stood out because of their color; further tests proved that the light rock was actually opal,” the report further informed.
Wondering why the discovery is important? Well, it may serve as an important resource for exploration and highlights that the surface below Mars could provide water-rich and radiation-shielded conditions. Also, scientists can now try and hope to harvest the water stored inside these opals.
“The opal currently on Mars may one day be able to be harvested for the water stored inside, offering a source of water for any crewed missions to the Red Planet,” space. com said.
It can be noted that the Curiosity Rover has completed 10 years on the surface of Mars in August 2022. Curiosity, which is a part of NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory mission, is the largest and most capable rover ever sent to Mars, according to the research organisation. It launched November 26, 2011 and landed on Mars at 10:32 p.m. PDT on August 5, 2012 (1:32 a.m. EDT on August 6, 2012).
Curiosity explores Gale Crater and acquires rock, soil, and air samples for onboard analysis. The car-size rover is about as tall as a basketball player and uses a 7 foot-long arm to place tools close to rocks selected for study. Curiosity’s carry an advanced kit of 10 science instruments. It has tools including 17 cameras, a laser to vaporize and study small pinpoint spots of rocks at a distance, and a drill to collect powdered rock samples. It hunts for special rocks that formed in water and/or have signs of organics.