20:23 GMT +315 August 2018
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    NASA's Curiosity rover has found the first evidence of liquid water on Mars, a significant step in the search for past life on the red planet.

    NASA Finds ‘Completely Unexpected’ Mineral on Mars

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    A rock sample of a surprising mineral discovered by NASA scientists on Mars may alter our understanding of how the planet formed.

    NASA's Curiosity rover found significant amounts of a silica mineral called tridymite at Gale Crater on Mars. The detection was a surprise to the scientists, because the substance, which is known on Earth, was never thought to be important or even present on the red planet.

    Tridymite genesis requires the combination of extremely high temperatures and high silica content in the volcanoes, according to the study.

    "On Earth, tridymite is formed at high temperatures in an explosive process called silicic volcanism. Mount St. Helens, the active volcano in Washington State, and the Satsuma-Iwojima volcano in Japan are examples of such volcanoes," said Richard Morris, the lead author of the study and NASA planetary scientist at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston.

    "The discovery of tridymite was completely unexpected. This discovery now begs the question of whether Mars experienced a much more violent and explosive volcanic history during the early evolution of the planet than previously thought," said Doug Ming, co-author of the paper and chief scientist at the space center.

    The finding will also stimulate scientists to re-examine the way tridymite forms to find out whether it could form at lower temperatures and not imply silicic volcanism.

    discovery, minerals, Mars Curiosity Rover, Curiosity, NASA, United States, Mars
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