|What's in this smooth soil on Mars?
In late October, NASA's robotic
Curiosity rover stopped near a place dubbed
Rocknest as it continues to explore
Rocknest is the group of stones seen near the top left of the
above image -- just to the left of Curiosity's mast.
Of particular interest was the unusually smooth patch of soil named Wind Drift seen to the left of Curiosity, which was likely created by the
blowing fine particles into Rocknest's wake.
The above image shows part of
Mt. Sharp in the background to upper right,
and, oddly, almost the entire rover itself, digitally reconstructed from 55 frames while digitally removing an extended arm.
Curiosity scooped several
sand samples from Wind Drift into its
Chemistry and Mineralogy Experiment (CheMin) and the
Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) laboratory for a detailed analysis.
Preliminary data from the soil indicates a small amount of one-carbon organic material the origin of which it presently unknown.
organic signal might be just contaminants from Earth,
the exciting possibility that it could be from Mars itself will remain a focus of
future exploration and research.