Curiosity rover’s wheel cracked open this rock, “Tintina,” and exposed white, hydrated minerals inside. Photo credit NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS Photo taken by Curiosity’s Mast Camera (Mastcam), built and operated by Malin Space Science Systems (MSSS), San Diego
Curiosity cracked this 1.2” by 1.6” rock in the Yellowknife Bay area of the Gale Crater where it had touched down last August. The exposed white substance is most likely calcium sulfate.
Curiosity had previously found signs of hydrated minerals forming veins in the various rock layers in the Yellowknife Bay area. The presence of these minerals suggests that the area had been, at one time, rich in water and possibly in life as well.
The possibility is bolstered by last week’s discovery of clay minerals at a drill site, indicating that the rocks may have formed in neutral water.
After comparing “Tintina’s” substance to similarly bright material filling veins in the bedrock of Yellowstone Bay, scientists believe the substance is the same.
They further conjecture that the rocks and bedrock themselves had been fractured at some point, allowing water to flow through them and deposit the minerals Curiosity is discovering today.
In this photo of “Tintina,” the color-coded bar on the right assigns the relative strength of its mineral hydration—almost over the top.
Notice the specks of weaker strengths of mineral hydration indicated in the bedrock surrounding the rock specimen.
Source: examiner, March 19, 2013 jpl.nasa.gov/space images, March 18 and 19, 2013