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Mars NASA Space Science

Curiosity Finds Volcanic Soils 52

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the hawaii-is-from-mars dept.
Zothecula writes "NASA's Curiosity Mars rover has completed its first soil analysis of the Red Planet. The unmanned explorer used an advanced, miniaturized X-ray diffraction instrument that is part of the Chemistry and Mineralogy instrument (CheMin) of its internal laboratory. The soil, collected at a site designated 'Rocknest' in Gale Crater, reveals that Martian soil is a weathered volcanic type similar to soils found in the Hawaiian Islands." And, of course, a shot of the area because it looks cool.
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Curiosity Finds Volcanic Soils

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  • by K. S. Kyosuke (729550) on Wednesday October 31, 2012 @10:53AM (#41830341)
    I really hope that Curiosity finds a Martian cat one day.
  • by crazyjj (2598719) * on Wednesday October 31, 2012 @11:09AM (#41830495)

    Martian soil is a weathered volcanic type similar to soils found in the Hawaiian Islands

    Now all it needs is air pressure, oxygen, water, more sunlight, an ozone layer, a magnetic field, arable soil, flora, and fauna--and we can live there no problem!

    • by Seng (697556)

      Water? Like from the toilet?

    • Eh, wake me up when they discover mai tai drinks on mars...

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Mars committed volcanic suicide. By this, I theorize that Mars once had a magnetosphere and a dense atmosphere, then started violently puking its core out until its magnetosphere weakened to he point of stripping its atmosphere. Core was iron, hence "The Red Planet."

    • Now all it needs is air pressure, oxygen, water, more sunlight, an ozone layer, a magnetic field, arable soil, flora, and fauna--and we can live there no problem!

      You forgot the Polynesian girls with wreaths of flowers, a dying language with very few distinct phonemes and a naval base with many battleships and few airplanes. But I would personally omit the Christian missionaries, they have really corrupted the locals' morals. Shame on them!

    • by ksemlerK (610016)
      You forgot to rub your pillock against another bloke's prat, and toss him off at the same time.
    • by tehcyder (746570)

      Martian soil is a weathered volcanic type similar to soils found in the Hawaiian Islands

      Now all it needs is air pressure, oxygen, water, more sunlight, an ozone layer, a magnetic field, arable soil, flora, and fauna--and we can live there no problem!

      As this is slashdot, I'm just waiting for smeone to say that these are merely technical details, which with the use of highly paid computer scientists and engineers we can solve before too long, probably in the next five to ten years.

  • Wow, evidence that there were once active volcanoes on Mars, who would have guessed that...

    I think Olympus Mons is bigger than Hurricane Sandy, although it probably didn't affect anybody on this planet.

    • although it probably didn't affect anybody on this planet.

      The top of that volcano is literally "in space" it's so tall. It's possible that... way back when it did erupt, it seeded this planet with life.

  • It's not like anyone would expect to find a lot of sedimentary or organic minerals on mars.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 31, 2012 @11:35AM (#41830767)

      They are in the commissioning phase for the instruments. They chose to sample this location precisely because it looked like it would be a fairly ordinary volcanic sand. They say in the press release that it's more or less what they were expecting. They weren't expecting big surprises, just confirmation that the instruments do indeed seem to be working.

      They will have more interesting sedimentary rocks to sample once they move on to new sites. In fact, some finely-layered, probably sedimentary bedrock outcrop can be seen on the other side of the gully to the northeast of where the rover is now, in the direction they are planning to head next (the telescopic zoom on the mastcams is awesome!). I think the short-term plan is to drill some of those outcrops and run them through the chemical and other analyses. Then they'll probably turn around and head south to look at the main outcrops on the mountain in the middle of Gale Crater, but that's probably a month or two away at least.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      What, and we should just assume the expectations are correct? It's always better to know for sure. The reaction from the people interviewed seems to be "Yep, pretty much exactly as we expected". That doesn't mean it was a waste of time, that means they can be even more sure that their models and predictions are right. There's no point in basing a later hypothesis on data which you haven't actually proven: you risk spending years of time and huge sums of money barking up the wrong tree.

  • Seems to be logical. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jellomizer (103300) on Wednesday October 31, 2012 @11:25AM (#41830657)

    A lot of the dirt we see on Earth, is made from decayed plant material, even normal beach (non-volcanic) sand on our beaches are made up of a lot of crustacean shells. Even with some water chances are Mars is lifeless, if there is live it wouldn't be as plentiful. So the soil would be mostly volcanic like.

  • Martian atmosphere is 95% carbon dioxide. Plants like carbon dioxide. Now we just have to plant enough macadamia and pineapple plants to start terraforming and produce oxygen. :-)
    • by Vernes (720223)
      They also like nutrients from the soil.
      There are none on mars.
      You will need to fling large amount of ready-to-use nutrient rich soil along with those plants.
      Now you have plants converting nutrients AND carbon dioxide in more nutrients.

      Thinking further, I think you need to resurrect one of em dinosaur era plants for trapping carbon dioxide.
      Plants did a lot of carbon dioxide trapping in those days.
      • So we need to fling poo at Mars. Sounds fun. I guess it's time to send monkeys back into space. :-)
      • by Kittenman (971447)

        They also like nutrients from the soil. There are none on mars. You will need to fling large amount of ready-to-use nutrient rich soil along with those plants. Now you have plants converting nutrients AND carbon dioxide in more nutrients.

        Sure? I live in NZ, and the reason why we can feed 20 million but only have a population of 4.5 million is because our soil is so fertile - after thousands of years of volcano blasts. One small town (Pukekoke) gets two (or possibly three) harvests of onions a year. And the soil there is a browny-red.

        Now I'm assuming that volcanic matter needs special stuff to help plants get started, but what's that? "Nutrients" = ???

        I'm also assuming we don't want to plant Mars full of onions...

        • by geekoid (135745)

          If we can get onions to grow, then I have no problem covers Mars in onions. If we could add a legume or potatoes, so much the better.

          • by tehcyder (746570)

            If we can get onions to grow, then I have no problem covers Mars in onions. If we could add a legume or potatoes, so much the better.

            Hemp is the ideal crop for Mars as it's tough and versatile. Plus it would help encourage space tourism and even migration to Mars, as long as we didn't impose antiquated Earth laws there.

      • by geekoid (135745)

        "There are none on mars."
        And you know this..how? Tests on the soil say otherwise.
        Did you mean 'organic matter'?

        "You will need to fling large amount of ready-to-use nutrient rich soil along with those plants."
        I have no problem with that. Toss it into the northern regions. Some sort of Ivy. Lets see what happens.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Yes, plants do like carbon dioxide. The problem is, plants also like water:

      6CO2 + 6H2O + (sunlight) ---> C6H12O6 + 6O2

      And, even if there was water vapor, the atmospheric pressure is so low that I don't think there's a high enough concentration CO2 for them to live.

  • I found the links to various terrestrial applications of the x-ray diffraction technology to be quite interesting. Portable or just more compact lab equipment based on this could be quite useful.

    Who knows? We may soon be able to run a sample through one of these and see what Slashdot editors have been smoking.

    • by necro81 (917438)
      You mean all that government-funded R&D into space technology might have some purpose here at home? Wow! I thought anything that the gub'ment spend money on was waste, fraud, an infringement of freedom, handouts to slacking moochers, or just plain pointless.
  • Martian soil contains volcanic residue, and Strawberry Tang, that is why its red.

The only function of economic forecasting is to make astrology look respectable. -- John Kenneth Galbraith

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