Mars has been viewed as an almost entirely basaltic planet, with igneous rocks that are dark and dense.
The ChemCam laser instrument on NASA’s Curiosity rover has turned its beam onto some unusually light-colored rocks on Mars, and the results are surprisingly similar to Earth’s granitic continental crust rocks.
This is the first discovery of a potential “continental crust” on Mars.
“Along the rover’s path we have seen some beautiful rocks with large, bright crystals, quite unexpected on Mars” said Roger Wiens of Los Alamos National Laboratory, lead scientist on the ChemCam instrument.
“As a general rule, light-colored crystals are lower density, and these are abundant in igneous rocks that make up the Earth’s continents.”
ChemCam, a laser-induced breakdown spectrometer (LIBS), provides chemical analyses at a sub-millimeter scale. The detailed images were provided by its Remote Micro Imager.
Wiens joined the KRQE’s This Morning team Thursday to discuss the topic further, watch above.