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October 12 2012
After shooting it with lasers and X-rays, NASA’s Curiosity rover has determined that a rock nicknamed “Jake Matijevic” is of a variety that no other rover has ever spotted on Mars.
The rock, a highly fractionated alkalic rock type, is relatively well known to geologists because it is common in rift zones on Earth and island chains such as the Hawaiian Islands.
“This is a rock type which had not been seen before” by previous Mars rovers including Spirit and Opportunity, said Roger Weins, principle investigator for Curiosity’s ChemCam instrument, during a NASA press conference Oct. 11. It forms under relatively high pressure and often in the presence of water. While Curiosity is mostly focused on sedimentary rocks that could indicate the presence of past conditions for life, Matijevic is an igneous rock that likely formed about 5 miles under the Martian surface.
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