The Curiosity Mars rover has found veined rocks that indicates water once flowed on Mars. The veins appear to be mineral gypsum and found in rock bed near the landing site in Gale Crater scientists said.
The Curiosity science team announced the rover was in the lowest point of Gale Crater, called Yellowknife Bay. Yellowknife bay is filled with many materials that the Curiosity team says can only be created if water had been there.
The project scientist John Grotzinger, of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, said at a press conference that the area to be drilled has turned out “to be jackpot unit. Every place we drive exposes fractures and vein fills,” according to National Geographic News.
“What these vein fills tell us is water percolated through these rocks, through these fracture networks and then minerals precipitated to form the white material that ChemCam (a rover instrument) has concluded is very likely a calcium sulfate, probably hydrated in origin,” Grotzinger said, Cnet reports.
Initially, the rover was only suppose to visit the Gale crater on its way to Mount Sharp, a large mountain in the middle of Gale Crater. But, after the recent findings in Yellowknife Bay it may be months before the rover gets to Mount Sharp. Grozinger said:
“I would guess it would be a good goal for us to try to get there by the end of the calendar year. But this mission is 100 percent discovery driven. If we find some really good stuff, we’re going to take the time it requires to do it right,” according to Cnet.
Drilling is expected to star this month. The Mars Rover will dig five holes roughly two inches into the bedrock the size of a rug. Then, it will feed the powder into the the rover’s two chemistry labs for analysis. Richard Cook of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory said the drill is the most complex device on the rover and operating it posed the biggest mechanical challenge since the Mars Rover.