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Clay, Clouds and Curiosity

Clay, Clouds and Curiosity

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Our Curiosity Mars rover recently drilled into the Martian bedrock on Mount Sharp and uncovered the highest amounts of clay minerals ever seen during the mission. The two pieces of rock that the rover targeted are nicknamed “Aberlady” and “Kilmarie” and they appear in a new selfie taken by the rover on May 12, 2019, the 2,405th Martian day, or sol, of the mission.

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On April 6, 2019, Curiosity drilled the first piece of bedrock called Aberlady, revealing the clay cache. So, what’s so interesting about clay? Clay minerals usually form in water, an ingredient essential to life. All along its 7-year journey, Curiosity has discovered clay minerals in mudstones that formed as river sediment settled within ancient lakes nearly 3.5 billion years ago. As with all water on Mars, the lakes eventually dried up.

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But Curiosity does more than just look at the ground. Even with all the drilling and analyzing, Curiosity took time on May 7, 2019 and May 12, 2019 to gaze at the clouds drifting over the Martian surface. Observing clouds can help scientists calculate wind speeds on the Red Planet.

For more on Curiosity and our other Mars missions like InSight, visit: https://mars.nasa.gov.

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