NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity has discovered high concentrations of Silica at some of its sites. These depositions were found in areas where the rover has been conducting studies for the last seven months, though it had been to Mars since last forty months. This new finding could help scientists to learn more about the ancient environment of the planet.
On the Earth, silica is commonly seen in the form of quartz and it makes up nine tenths of certain rock composition. Albert Yen, a Curiosity science team member at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California has described these compositions as puzzling.
This is because the concentration of silica can be boosted either by leaching away other ingredients while leaving silica behind or by bringing in silica from some other place. Either of these processes involves water. And if any of the processes could be surely determined, it will help in learning more about the other conditions in those ancient wet environments.
These findings on Mount Sharp have strong links to the earlier NASA rover Spirit’s findings, like the signs of sulfuric acid. And the Curiosity teams are trying to correlate the two.
Curiosity has been studying geological layers of Mount Sharp, going uphill, since 2014, after two years of productive work on the plains surrounding the mountain, and in the first it has offered the result that lakes in the area billions of years ago offered favorable conditions for life, if microbes ever lived on Mars.