By George Dvorsky
July 9, 2021
Rocks on Mars preserve a record of the planet’s ancient past, but a surprising discovery made by NASA’s Curiosity rover shows some patches of Martian rock have had their histories completely erased.
The primary purpose of NASA’s Curiosity mission is to evaluate the prior potential for habitability on Mars, while the newly arrived Perseverance mission aims to find actual remnants or signs of prior life. To that end, Curiosity has been investigating sedimentary rocks in Gale crater, which are filled with clay minerals. Clay is an important marker of habitability, as it suggests the pastpresence of liquid water—a key ingredient for life.