Tonight's Sky
Sun
Sun
Moon
Moon
Mercury
Mercury
Venus
Venus
Mars
Mars
Jupiter
Jupiter
Saturn
Saturn

Tonight's Sky — Change location

OR

Searching...

Tonight's Sky — Select location

Tonight's Sky — Enter coordinates

° '
° '

Clay found on Mars points toward watery past

Curiosity found signs of water from large amounts of clay, adding to the possibility Mars could have been hospitable for microbial life.

RELATED TOPICS: ROBOTIC MISSIONS | MARS | CURIOSITY
CuriositySelfieDrillSite
Curiosity snapped this selfie May 12, 2019; to the left of the rover are its two recent two drill sites, "Aberlady" and "Kilmarie."
NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS
Finding the conditions to support life on Mars is the main goal for the Curiosity rover, and a new discovery of clay could be leading the rover on the right path.

After drilling in an area on Mars dubbed the “clay-bearing unit,” two new samples have the highest amounts of clay minerals ever found on the Red Planet. Curiosity began drilling the two rock targets, called “Aberlady” and “Kilmarie,” in early April, and then used its mineralogy instrument to analyze the rock samples.

Because clay often forms when there’s water present and water is a condition for life, this is a sign that could further scientists’ search to figure out if there was ever microbial life on Mars. Although these findings aren’t direct proof there was ever life on Mars, according to a press release, it’s likely that these samples came from ancient martian lakes, which may have offered an ideal home for life.

The find occurred near the lower side of Mount Sharp, and adds to other results from Curiosity that show there was once a significant amount of water in Gale Crater, where the rover landed in 2012. Future drilling will continue in the clay-bearing area as scientists work on finding out what makes this ridge and area of Mars different, along with working on unlocking more clues to piece together the history of Mars.
0

JOIN THE DISCUSSION

Read and share your comments on this article
ADVERTISEMENT

FREE EMAIL NEWSLETTER

Receive news, sky-event information, observing tips, and more from Astronomy's weekly email newsletter. View our Privacy Policy.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
RCLP_ASY_0301_mediumrectangle

Untangle the mysteries of our solar system and its moons with this free download.