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Mars Curiosity Rover Found Signs of 'Explosive' Volcanoes on Mars

Jun 15, 2016 04:54 AM EDT
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NASA's Mars Curiosity Rover continues to deliver fascinating new information about the red planet. A recent study shows that the planet might have had explosive volcanoes, which couldn't have existed due to the belief that Mars doesn't have tectonic plates. 

The rover recently unearthed mineral evidence from explosive volcanoes that can also be found on Earth. If identified properly, these minerals will be considered as the first evidence that will prove the existence of volcanoes during the ancient years. 

The curiosity rover used its CheMin instrument to drill the Gale crater, and the samples were then exposed to x-rays. The mineral 'tridymite' was found, a first on Martian territory. On Earth, tridymite can also be observed from explosive volcanoes, prompting the study authors to say that there could have been active explosive volcanoes on Mars.

The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences said that this finding is a key to understanding the explosive and active past of Mars.

"Maybe Mars is different on the inside than we think it is," said Richard V. Morris, study lead author and NASA's geochemist, in an interview published by LA Times.

The rover's mission was launched in 2011 as part of NASA's Mars exploration program. Since then it was able to traverse the rocky terrain of the red planet while observing the composition, weather and the atmosphere of Mars. The rover's findings are considered integral in NASA's upcoming mission to Mars.

"Its mission is to determine the planet's "habitability," said NASA in a statement.

During the rover's stay on Mars, it was able to do some digging and examination of Martian composites such as sand.

The study further revealed that during last year's exploration of the Marias Pass, the Curiosity rover was also able to detect high silica content on the rocks.

These findings were astounding because the red planet has always been known as an idle planet, without tectonic plates that can cause earthquakes and explosive volcanoes, according to a report by Engadget.

Some experts even argue that ancient water streams might have carried the mineral to the Gale crater. But that theory is yet to be proven.

The discovery of the mineral is indeed another breakthrough, but instead of giving scientists an answer, it has led to more questions asked about Mars.

 

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