Gale Crater, sealed from the ridge of Vera Rubin
The researchers managed to uncover Martian mineralogy on an unprecedented scale, which will help to understand the geological history and habitability of the planet. Minerals are formed from new combinations of elements. These combinations can be influenced by geological activity, such as volcanoes and contacts in the aquatic environment. Understanding the mineralogy of another planet allows you to be aware of the formative forces involved in this place.
The CheMin instrument on NASA's Mars rover Curiosity is the first such instrument to function on a foreign planet. But there are limitations on how much he can tell about the minerals of the Red Planet. Scientists were able to find a way to get more data.
CheMin can distinguish between types of Martian minerals and their proportions. But the researchers did not have the ability to calibrate to measure the exact composition or crystalline chemistry. For example, there was information about the presence of a certain type of feldspar on Mars, but there was not a sufficient level of detail. The crystals are endowed with a long repetitive structure. The smallest unit of geometry of this crystal lattice is called the unit cell, consisting of repeating atomic units. Since the unit cell parameters for minerals found in 13 samples are known, CheMin could use them as a key to unlock more information about minerals.
Thus, it turned out that the Gale Martian crater contains feldspar and olivine minerals. The composition of the first varies between different sampling sites. Also, the percentage of magnesium in olivine reaches 52-72%, which reveals data on the water change of the material.