Before this recent discovery, Mars was considered to be mainly a basaltic planet, and its surface covered in dark, dense rocks similar to the crust rocks below our planet’s oceans.
However, the recent discovery made by NASA’s Curiosity rover suggests that Mars surface is more diverse that previously believed. After landing in the Gale Crater, the rover used its ChemCam laser technology to analyze the composition of some pieces of rocks that were lighter colored than the surrounding ones.
The scientists detailed their new findings in the journal Nature Geoscience.
Roger Wiens, scientist at the Roger Wiens of Los Alamos National Laboratory, and one of the lead researchers in charge of the ChemCam laser technology, explained that while cruising alon the path, the Curiosity rover identified a couple of rocks that had large crystals inside them. The rocks were brighter-looking than all of the other rocks and scientists thought it to be pretty unexpected for Mars. Wiens explained that light-colored crystal rocks have a lower density and are found abundantly in igneous rocks of which our planet’s continents are made.
After they analyzed the rock samples, the researchers found they were made of quartz and feldspar, a chemical composition very similar to that of the rocks that make the continental crust of the Earth. Wiens said this is another confirmation that Mars surface is more similar to our planet than previously believed.
According to the chemical analysis of the rocks, they contain large feldspar crystals and silica, which means that the Martian surface is not exclusively made of dense, dark rocks, but also light-colored ones that resemble those we have on Earth.
Violaine Sautter, scientist at the Museum of Natural History in Paris, and one of the lead authors of the study, explained that the rocks discovered recently by NASA’s Curiosity rover are very similar to a type of rocks known as Tonalite-Trondhjemite-Granodiorite, or TTG. This type of rocks made up our planet’s continental crust more than 2.5 billion years ago, according to the experts.
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