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Curiosity completes first studies of Martian soil

MOSCOW, Oct. 31 — Initial experiments completed by NASA's Mars rover Curiosity show that Martian soil’s minerals are similar to those in weathered volcanic-origin basaltic soils in Hawaii, NASA reported.

Curiosity recently ingested the first sample of the Red Planet’s soil. The rover used its Chemistry and Mineralogy tool (CheMin) to study the sample. The results obtained “provide refined and in some cases new identifications of the minerals in this first X-ray diffraction analysis on Mars,” a NASA researcher said.

“Our team is elated with these first results from our instrument,” David Blake of NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California, said.

“They heighten our anticipation for future CheMin analyses in the months and miles ahead for Curiosity,” Blake, who is the principal investigator for CheMin, said.

Identification of minerals in rocks and soil is a key activity for the mission to assess past environmental conditions on Mars, NASA said.

CheMin uses X-ray diffraction, which is also used by geologists on Earth who operate larger laboratory tools.

“This method provides more accurate identifications of minerals than any method previously used on Mars,” NASA said on its website.

During the rover's two-year mission, researchers will use its 10 science instruments to assess if the selected field site inside Gale Crater has ever had environmental conditions suitable for microbial life.(PNA/RIA Novosti)

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