NASA Curiosity Rover has turned its focus on the southwest region in Mars. It investigated a region earlier, which was particularly rich in silica and hydrogen content. The presence of hydrogen indicates the presence of water bound minerals in the soil.
The region where Curiosity is investigating is known ‘Marias Pass’. Curiosity first drilled into the rock and the collected sample named ‘Buckskin’. It took images with the camera that is stitched to its feet. Curiosity concluded its task on August 12 and then proceeded to Mount Sharp. The Rover first reached the mountain in September 2014.
Curiosity has a fully-fledged internal lab that can chemically analyze any sample. Curiosity has a sample powder drilled from buckskin.
Researchers are trying to ascertain why the rocks of the Marias Pass region contain a high level of silica and hydrogen as compared to another region. Silica is available in abundance on Earth as quartz.
NASA’s Mars Curiosity Rover also features a laser-firing instrument and a camera with which it is monitoring the silica rocks.
The Hydrogen levels in the samples are evaluated by Dynamic Albedo of Neutrons instrument aboard the Rover. The instrument has recorded low levels of hydrogen in the sample. It implies that the hydrogen is from water or water adsorbed in the minerals.
This particular region holds four times as much water as anywhere else Curiosity drove during its three or four years, just 1 meter below the surface.
The Dynamic Albedo of Neutrons (DAN), the instrument first hinted high levels of hydrogen in its passive mode. In its active mode, it detected hydrated material covered by a thin layer of drier material.
The rover confirmed that the area was rich in silica and hydrogen on May 21.The rover was moving through an area where two type of sedimentary bedrock lies in close conjunction with one another. Such junctions of two different types of sedimentary rocks hold vital clues to changes happening in the environment in the past.