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Published:January 4th, 2017 10:11 EST

NASA's Curiosity Rover Stumbles Across Boron Lying on the Martian Surface

By Ron G Anselm

"With the recent discovery of Boron on Mars leads to the hopes by NASA that one day Mars could become our next planet we could call Earth. With all of the damage we have done to our environment and with the onset of Global Warming and other atrocities, Mars may very well have to be our next planet we call home" (Anselm, R.)

Mars is as mysterious a planet as the Chicago Cubs recently winning the World Series. Astronomers for many years doubted that Mars could become our next planet we could very well have to not want to relocate to. The Chicago Cubs winning the World Series was not in this train of thought by astronomers but is in my train of thought as a sports fan. To me as a sports fan was a surprise that the Cubs won after so many years.

Anyway, back to science and space. NASA has focused their attention on the red planet because as they navigate around our solar system NASA keeps its eye out for a habitable plant with a lot of the same characteristics as Earth. That`s really not a choice for them to make; they have to find an environment close to ours for us humans to be able to survive and one of the elements that has to be on the planet that they could call habitable for us is of course water or H20 as us science buffs like to refer to it has.

Recently, NASA Curiosity Rover discovered the existence of Boron which is a metalloid chemical element with properties intermediate between those of carbon and aluminum. No, that isn`t exactly water but what it means with this new discovery is the potential for habitable groundwater in the ancient past could have been in existence there.

So, somewhere on that rocky, red clayed Martian surface could be a well full of water the size of Donald Trump`s ego or should I say the size of one of our great oceans on either the West or East coast or there was water somewhere on the mysterious planet which would mean all the ingredients are there for water which makes Mars a potential habitable planet for us possible one day.

As curiosity became more curious about this new discovery of Boron it navigated around the red surface to a mineral vein called "Catabola" which turned out to be the location where the highest concentration of Boron was found.

The Chem-Cam on Rover snapped many photos of the vein and surrounding areas and found various concentrations of Boron in and around the vein. The Chem -Cam identified the Boron discovered as Calcium Sulfate veins in the gale Crater. So, maybe an idea is for scientists one day to find a way to transport heavy equipment from Earth to Mars to set-up drilling excavations to see if water exists below the surface around the discovery areas that show the potential and possibility of water on Mars or the discovery areas where water may have existed in the past.

Dr. Patrick Gasda, who is a researcher at Los Alamos National Laboratory, commented more about Boron by stating, "No prior mission to Mars has found boron." (Gasda, P.) A very short comment by him but to the point. And if that is true that no other mission has found the existence of Boron on Mars then this discovery could prove to be another large piece of the puzzle in a lengthy journey by NASA to finding the existence of water and to this day has so far proved to be as elusive as Hillary Clinton winning the Presidency.

NASA scientists explained a little about the Chem-Cam and the mission by stating, "The Chem-Cam instrument provides quantitative elemental compositions of targets in Gale Crater using laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy," the scientists explained.

"We observed boron lines in 23 calcium sulfate veins: 3 in Yellowknife Bay and 20 in the Murray lacustrine mudstone and the Stimson eolian sandstone units since sol 727, as Curiosity arrived at the base of Mt. Sharp, a 5 km sedimentary mound in the center of Gale Crater."(sci-news)

So, the Mars Curiosity Rover is panning in and around the crater and almost like panning for gold but panning for Boron. Dr. Gasda chimed in commenting a little about the Boron by saying, "If the boron that we found on Mars is similar to what we see on Earth, it would indicate that the groundwater of ancient Mars that formed these veins would have been 32-140 degrees Fahrenheit (0-60 degrees Celsius) and neutral-to-alkaline pH,"(Gasda, P.)

That is a very interesting comment about the scientific make-up of Boron. And Boron is mostly associated with arid sites where a lot of water has evaporated. Dr. Gasda is looking at two different hypotheses for the source leading to the discovery of the Boron.

One Hypothesis is that the original drying out of the Gale Lake Crater where some of the Boron was discovered resulted in deposits of Boron in an overlying layer that was not yet reached by the Curiosity Rover and some of the Boron material could have been carried by groundwater into the fractures of the rocks.

The second hypothesis by Dr. Gasda is maybe the changes in the clay-bearing deposits and the groundwater affected how the Boron was taken and dropped off within the local rock sediments.

Either way, the discovery of Boron is present and NASA has found a large piece of the mysterious puzzle that hopefully when assembled to make-up the complete picture of the search for water will prove to be a big asset.

So, as NASA continues to search for a habitable planet we could again one day call home and the Curiosity Rover continues to be as curious as a cat in finding the necessary pieces of the puzzle to the existence of water on the Martian planet, the Chicago Cubs continue to be in shock about winning the World Series and if they do win it again may very well prove to be as long a shot as the existence of water on Mars. We shall see.

Reference

Enrico, de Lazaro, (2016) NASA`s Curiosity Rover Finds Boron on Martian Surface (http://www.sci-news.com/space/curiosity-boron-mars-04449.html) Retrieved December 18, 2016.