The NASA Curiosity rover has found, for the first time since its arrival, the presence of the element Boron in the surface of Mars. This could indicate a long-term habitable and clement zone present in the Red Planet.
At the annual American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco, scientists from NASA and the Los Alamos National Laboratory reported the finding. It is known that Boron is a signature element that can prove the existence of past water in a defined area. Right now on Earth, this element can be easily found in regions like the Californian Death Valley.
The Curiosity findings were at Mars’ Mount Sharp, specifically inside the Gale Crater. The rover has been in this place since its landing back in 2012 and has studied different rock formations in a range of about 200 meters. This particular elevational range can be analyzed as the evidence of tens of millions of years of time span.
The scientists at the American Geophysical Union meeting explained that not only the elevational range but the presence of Boron could indicate a very changeable area of the Red Planet. However, this doesn’t translate into this zone being an inhabitable environment for life.
Not only Boron has been found
All the analyses that the research team has made are the product of Curiosity´s observations. The rover has the ability to drill several rock formations and then study the samples that came from the drilling. These recollections had allowed scientists to determine that in the Gale Crater existed a lake-and-stream system, maybe billions of years ago
Regarding these observations, Curiosity has been able to collect data that suggest the presence of neutral pH water within the before mentioned lake. According to John Grotzinger, a geologist at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, through time this water might have become more acid and saltier. He stated that even the lake probably dried at distinct times and then filled up again, with proportion to the groundwater levels.
Grotzinger established that no matter all these changes, the Gale Crater still seemed to be habitable for microbial life. The Curiosity also found, in the last months, the presence of clay, magnetite, and hematite. This only means great news for Mars habitability, as the presence of these elements proves the existence of a dynamic system that is good for life itself.
“They (the elements) interact with groundwater as well as surface water. The water influences the chemistry of the clays, but the composition of the water also changes. We are seeing chemical complexity indicating a long, interactive history with the water. The more complicated the chemistry is, the better it is for habitability,” Grotzinger said in a statement released this Tuesday.