Mars once had abundant water on its surface, and this evidence was unearthed by NASA’s Curiosity Rover using its laser Chemistry and Camera. It has detected boron on the surface of the red planet. Boron is a water soluble element and is a signature of evaporated water and found in places like the Death Valley in California.
If the boron which has been traced in the calcium sulfate mineral veins on the Red Planet is similar to those found on Earth, it hints that these veins have been formed by groundwater of ancient Mars. The temperature would have been in the range of 0 to 60 degrees Celsius and the pH would have been from neutral to alkaline. No previous missions to Mars had ever found the presence of Boron.
Curiosity is trekking slowly up the gentle slopes of Mount Sharp. The rover has been investigating the presence of water and is progressively sampling younger layers. Earlier drilling operations by the rover had indicated the presence of mudstone which is formed when mud accumulates at the bottom of the lakes.
The region called Catabola is a raised calcium sulfate vein with a high percentage of boron. In a statement, Los Alamos National Laboratory said that the discovery of boron is important in unraveling the mystery of the red planet and if life is present or was once present in the bygone era. As the rover is progressing up the hill, the soil composition is trending more towards clay and more boron. It could tell us the prevailing conditions when the sediments were initially deposited and how groundwater flowing through the sediments had altered its composition.
The red planet is today a lifeless and desolate wasteland, but it was not always like this before. We know today by the data collected by Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and the Curiosity rover that the planet had abundant water to cover its entire surface with a layer 450 feet deep, some 4.3 billion years ago. Even after solar winds had chiseled off its atmosphere, lakes of water and snowmelt-fed stream still existed on its surface.