Curiosity has discovered a ‘mineral flower’ on Mars

La concrétion martienne observée par Curiosity. © Nasa/JPL-Caltech/MSSS/Kevin M. Gill

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[EN VIDÉO] Curiosity: Breathtaking views from the side of Mount Sharp
Nine years after landing on Mars, shortly after covering the bottom of the Gale Gorge, the Curiosity rover continues its journey on the red planet on the side of Mount Sharp – also known as the Aeolis Mons. It sends extraordinary images to astronomers interested in learning more about the weather conditions on the Red Planet in the past. (In English) © NASA, Jet Propulsion Laboratory

A few days ago, Curiosity RoverStill active on Mars, take one Photography Very strange: the sand hit the ground Wind Mars stands small Concrete Flower shaped mineral. Rarely 1 cm wide, there are several arms in the concrete, which are attached to the base.

However, this is not the first time Curiosity has photographed this type of creation. According to scientists, they are the result of a diagnostic process, that is, they are the result of remodeling. In place Of Minerals, Leads to the development of a new crystal. The formation of this type of structure is especially related to the presence of water saturated with sulfates.

Mineral formation captured by Mars Curiosity Soul 3396, created from 6 images taken by Mahli instrument on Mars 3396 & 3397 on the Mars Curiosity rover. © Nasa / JPL-Caltech / MSSS

Analog of Mars of our sand roses

In this sense, it may be the analogue of the Martian planet of our roses Sand. The origin of the creation is actually reminiscent of an evaporative concretion. On Earth, there are evaporators Sedimentary rocks From sediments during the evaporation process of a liquid containing chlorides or sulfates (Salt water) Rock salt is the most well-known evaporation, but Gypsum Or anhydrite is also part of this type of mineral. Therefore, evaporators usually form in shallow layers, subject to strong evaporation and defective aqueous regime such as pools or pools. Dead Sea.

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Well known sand roses grow under certain conditions. These wonderful rocks Color Orange is crystallization Gypsum Usually in a sandy environment. Therefore, sand roses do not form like the gypsum in the middle. Lake. Gypsum crystals can grow even in uncoordinated media (sand orClay), Soaked Water table Rich Calcium sulfate. As evaporation progresses, the sheet condenses into ions until the concentration allows the crystallization of the minerals. The crystals grow by pushing sand around them. Thus we see roses in the sand DesertsBuried under a few meters of sand.

A small mineral flower dug out by erosion

A similar process may be the origin of thin Mars Blackberry salt. Previous studies of similar concretes have shown that crystals may have grown in the soil. But how to explain their presence on the surface today? Simply by the erosion process. Over time, Martian winds eroded the rock, until they brought these little wrinkles to light. Highly resistant to corrosion by its nature, this concrete now looks like a small mineral flower on the ground. The surface of Mars.

At another Mars site explored by Curiosity, this type of concrete was analyzed using composite tools. ChemCam / LIBS And APXS. At the very least, for this site, the concrete is especially enriched with magnesium (Mg) and many other types. Sulfide (S) The chemical composition is mainly MgSO4, The surface of the CaSO compound distinguishes these concretions from gypsum4.

This type of concretion provides a lot of information about the past environment of Mars and especially the presence of water in the form of salt water at its base.

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