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October 31 2012

Nasa's Curiosity Mars rover finds soil similar to volcanic sands of Hawaii

In the first inventory of minerals on another planet, Nasa's Mars rover has found soil that bears a striking resemblance to the weathered, volcanic sand of Hawaii, say scientists.

The rover, named Curiosity, uses an x-ray imager to reveal the atomic structures of crystals in the Martian soil. It was the first time the technology, known as x-ray diffraction, was used to analyse soil not on Earth.

"This was a 22-year journey and a magical moment for me," said David Blake, Nasa's lead scientist for the rover's mineralogical instrument.

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