Curiosity collects first clay sample, could provide evidence of ancient water

curiosity clay bearing unit sample curiosityclay
The Mast Camera (Mastcam) on NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover captured this mosaic as it explored the clay-bearing unit on February 3, 2019 (Sol 2309). This landscape includes the rocky landmark nicknamed “Knockfarril Hill” (center right) and the edge of Vera Rubin Ridge, which runs along the top of the scene. NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

The Curiosity rover’s adventures on Mars continue with an exploration of the hopefully clay-rich bedrock in a part of Mount Sharp. Curiosity previously had problems drilling into the hard Mars bedrock, but its new location in the “clay-bearing unit,” as its called, is making drilling much easier. The softer soil was no issue for Curiosity’s drill this time, and it was easily able to collect a sample for analysis.

Curiosity collected a sample of bedrock called “Aberlady” on Saturday, April 6, which the rover returned to its mineralogy lab on Wednesday, April 10. Now scientists can analyze the sample. They are particularly keen to look for traces of clay minerals, as the presence of these minerals can indicate whether there used to be water present in the region. Evidence suggests that at one point there was liquid water on the surface of Mars, and Curiosity’s samples could confirm this.

The clay-bearing unit is near to a rocky landmark named “Knockfarril Hill” and not far from the Vera Rubin Ridge where the rover was previously situated. Curiosity is currently climbing a huge mountain called Mouth Sharp, which has revealed a variety of geological features. It has found several kinds of bedrock and sand, and as you can see from the image above, there are pebbles everywhere on the surface. Scientists are still trying to work out whether these pebbles were eroded from the bedrock or came from a different source.

“Each layer of this mountain is a puzzle piece,” Curiosity Project Scientist Ashwin Vasavada of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab said in a statement. “They each hold clues to a different era in Martian history. We’re excited to see what this first sample tells us about the ancient environment, especially about water.”

Once the data from Aberlady has been analyzed, there are further plans for Curiosity. The researchers will send the rover to drill for more samples in the surrounding area to see how the rock here differs from the Vera Rubin Ridge it explored before, then the rover will explore an area higher up on the mountain which seems to contain sulfate.

Emerging Tech

Pepsi, StartRocket team up to launch satellites for energy drink ad in night sky

Pepsi is working with StartRocket to launch an energy drink advertisement into the night sky using miniature satellites. The Russian startup is looking to send its system into orbit in 2021.
Gaming

The hottest Nintendo Switch games you can get right now

The Nintendo Switch's lineup started off small, but games have steadily released as the console continues through its second year. Here are the best Nintendo Switch games available now.
Movies & TV

Skip the flowers and sunshine this spring and watch the best shows on Hulu

It's often overwhelming to navigate Hulu's robust library of TV shows. To help, we put together a list of the best shows on Hulu, whether you're into frenetic cartoons, intelligent dramas, or anything in between.
Movies & TV

The best movies on Netflix in March, from Buster Scruggs to Roma

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, witty humor, or anything else.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix right now (April 2019)

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Emerging Tech

Public vote opens for new planet name, but Planet McPlanetface won’t fly

The largest unnamed world in our solar system needs an official title, and you can help choose it. The scientists who discovered the icy planetoid recently announced details of a public vote offering three choices.
Emerging Tech

How MIT hacked horticulture to cultivate a hyper-flavorful basil plant

At MIT, Caleb Harper used his personal food computers to alter the climate in which he grew basil. Exposing it light for 24 hours a day changed the flavor profile of the plant, making it spicier and stronger.
Emerging Tech

Watch the fearsome DroneHunter X3 pluck rogue UAVs out of the sky

How do you stop enemy drones in their tracks? DroneHunter X3 is a new autonomous anti-drone technology which outruns and then captures rogue drones in midair. Check it out in action.
Emerging Tech

SpaceX’s main Falcon Heavy booster is lost at sea after falling off drone ship

SpaceX has lost the center core of its Falcon Heavy rocket after a successful mission last week that ended with it landing on a drone ship. SpaceX said rough seas resulted in the rocket toppling over and falling into the ocean.
Emerging Tech

Sweden is building a road that recharges electric buses that drive over it

The Swedish transport administration is exploring special roads which will charge vehicles’ batteries as they drive over them. It will test the idea with a short sample stretch of road.
Emerging Tech

Scientists manage to 3D print an actual heart using human cells

Scientists at Tel Aviv University have achieved a world-first by 3D printing a small-scale heart, complete with blood vessels, ventricles, and chambers. Here's why that's so exciting.
Emerging Tech

Drown out noisy neighbors and rest easy with these white noise machines

Some people are more sensitive to sound during sleep than others. Luckily, there are a number of white noise machines on the market to mask the noise. Here are our five of our current favorites.
Emerging Tech

Feast your eyes on the wildest, most elaborate Rube Goldberg machines ever built

Want to see something totally mesmerizing? Check out several of the best Rube Goldberg machines from across the internet, including one that serves cake and others that do ... nothing particularly useful.
Emerging Tech

Watch a pack of SpotMini robot dogs perform a terrifying feat of strength

Boston Dynamics' SpotMini robotic dog is now going around in packs, and the results are somewhat concerning. Check out the video to see what kind of shenanigans 10 of them got up to recently ...