First, NASA's Curiosity found remnants of what scientists believe is an ancient river bed. Now the little rover that could has discovered Martian soil that closely resembles the volcanic soil found on the islands of Hawaii.
Curiosity scooped up some of the soil from its Gale Crater landing site, and an on-board instrument called the CheMin, developed by NASA chemist, David Blake, shook the particles 2000 a times a second to remove larger grains before putting them through a process known as X-ray diffraction.
This is amazing for three reasons. One, the shoe box-sized CheMin performs procedures that, according to SF Gate, would regularly take a machine the size of a refrigerator to complete. This is also the first time an X-ray has been used on an alien planet. And lastly, it found similarities between the alien soil and dirt found right here on Earth.
Blake, in a teleconference with reporters, said it was a "magical moment."
First signs of now-dry rivers, and now this. We're a step closer to discovering if Mars ever supported life. We can't wait to see what else the Curiosity rover discovers during its two-year mission on the Red Planet.
[via SF Gate]