NASA’s curiosity rover has for the first time detected boron on the surface of Mars- the red planet. Presence of boron indicates that groundwater may have possibly been suitable for hosting microbial life in the ancient past.
Researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory in US believe that if boron found on Mars is similar to the one which we see on earth, that would possibly indicate that groundwater of ancient Mars that formed these veins would have been 0-60 degrees Celsius and neutral-to-alkaline pH.
What makes it habitable is the temperature, pH, and dissolved mineral content of the groundwater. Boron was identified by the rover's laser-shooting Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) instrument.
Boron has been associated with arid sites where much water has evaporated away. But the environmental implications of boron found by NASA’s Curiosity rover still remain debatable.
So far scientists are putting forward this possible reason behind the source of boron:
- It could be that the drying out of part of Gale lake resulted in a boron-containing deposit in an overlying layer, not yet reached by Curiosity. Boron’s discovery happens to be of immense importance when it comes to findings related to composition of Martian rocks.
Curiosity is there to find out more about the red planet by climbing a layered Martian mountain and finding its rock-composition. This would further help in decoding how ancient lakes and wet underground environments changed, billions of years ago, in ways that affected their favourability for microbial life.
The more uphill gets rover, the more scientists get amazed by the chemical complexity of the rocks. Boron presence and clay so far hint towards mobility of elements and electrons, and that is good for human life.