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Curiosity Rover Snaps a Selfie, Shows Us Martian Clay as Telltale Sign of Water

Presently there is only one human-made moving rover on Mars, and its name is Curiosity. With nothing left to do but roam the wastelands by itself, the machine is eagerly anticipating the arrival of the 2020 rover less than two years from now.
Two small holes in the ground show where Curiosity's drill went in 1 photo
Having been launched to Mars in 2012, Curiosity’s sole reason for being there is to dig holes in the ground, extract samples, and analyze them. And that’s exactly what it did earlier this month when it struck not gold, but clay.

The rover’s most recent selfie shows the wheeled machine just moments after it extracted soil samples that contain “the highest amounts of clay minerals ever found during the mission.”

Why is this important? Clay generally forms in the presence of water, and finding a lot of it in one place could mean the precious liquid could have flowed in this part of Mars a long time ago.

Other than that, not even NASA knows what other revelations Martian clay might provide.

“Other than proof that there was a significant amount of water once in Gale Crater, what these new findings mean for the region is still up for debate,” the agency says in a comment accompanying the above photo.

In addition to finding clay, the rover is now attempting to create a more comprehensive picture of the Martian atmosphere, as it has caught on film water-ice clouds about 19 miles (31 kilometers) above the surface.

To get this clearer picture, NASA scientists are trying to coordinate cloud observations with the InSight lander, which is located  373 miles (600 km) away from Curiosity’s current position.

As for Curiosity, it is a machine a tad bigger than the now dead co-workers Spirit and Opportunity, occupying roughly the same space as a small SUV. It moves around on 20-inch (50.8 cm) wheels capable of passing over obstacles up to 25 inches (65 centimeters) high.


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