Anything about rocks always arouses my curiosity, having studied Mining engineering.
There was nothing more intriguing, therefore, knowing that a rock found and analyzed by NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity resembled rocks found on our planet.
“This rock is a close match in chemical composition to an unusual but well-known type of igneous rock found in many volcanic provinces on Earth,” Curiosity co-investigator Edward Stolper of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena said in a statement.
Unusual in the sense that when Curiosity’s arm-mounted Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer —known as APXS laser was used to zap and the Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) instrument, to analyze the pulverized material from the football-sized rock, scientists found the rock low in magnesium and iron – elements common in igneous rocks, but high in elements consistent with the mineral feldspar.
Apparently, previous Mars rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, found rocks that were high in magnesium and iron.
The sampled rock was called ‘Jake’, after a Jet Propulsion Laboratory rover engineer, Jake Matijevic, who died shortly after Curiosity’s landing on the Red Planet on August 6, 2012.
Scientists said the make-up of the rock is similar to one found on oceanic islands like Hawaii and St. Helena, as well as in continental rift zones like the Rio Grande, which extends from Colorado to Chihuahua, Mexico.
(Igneous rocks are called fire rocks and are formed either underground or above ground. Underground, they are formed when the melted rock, called magma, deep within the earth becomes trapped in small pockets. As these pockets of magma cool slowly underground, the magma becomes igneous rocks.
Igneous rocks are also formed when volcanoes erupt, causing the magma to rise above the earth’s surface. When magma appears above the earth, it is called lava. Igneous rocks are formed as the lava cools above ground.
Igneous rocks usually contain ferro-magnesium minerals (amphiboles, pyroxenes, micas,, or olivine) and feldspar- like minerals. Many contain quartz.)