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The Mars Science Laboratory rover, Curiosity, has made some exciting discoveries since it arrived on the surface of the Red Planet in August last year. In the first 100 martian days after landing, Curiosity investigated a loose rock, named Jake_M, sitting on the plains of Gale crater, and an accumulation of windblown sand, silt, and dust known as Rocknest. Jake_M is unlike any other martian rock we knew about and is similar to uncommon terrestrial rocks found on ocean islands and in rift zones. Its composition provides clues to the nature of the martian mantle. Rocknest contains water bound to amorphous materials and several simple organic compounds. Chemical analysis of this deposit indicates that basaltic martian soils may be locally sourced yet globally similar in composition. Five articles presented in the 27 September edition of Science describe the results from these initial investigations.
Join Curiosity’s project scientist, John Grotzinger, and the principal investigator of the Chemistry & Mineralogy X-Ray Diffraction instrument, David Blake, on Thursday, 3 October, at 3 p.m. EDT on this page for a live chat about the rover’s latest finds.