What has Curiosity found that has NASA scientists calling it a ‘jackpot’?

The view of Curiosity’s planned first drilling site. The enlargements of rocks seen on the right, and denoted by …

The real mission for the Mars Curiosity Rover is supposed to start when it reaches the base of Mount Sharp later this year. However, as it slowly makes its way there, it keeps finding more and more interesting things for the engineers and scientists at NASA to get excited about.

The rover's latest find, which is being called a "jackpot" by mission lead scientist John Grotzinger, is at a location called 'Yellowknife Bay'.

"We chose to go there because we saw something anomalous, but wouldn't have predicted any of this from orbit," said Grotzinger, according to Phys.org.

Curiosity arrived at Yellowknife Bay earlier this month, looking for a place to test the rock drill at the end of its arm, and discovered a treasure trove of new evidence for Mar's watery past — spherules that are typically the result of water percolating through pores in sediments, weathering consistent with that caused by water, and layered deposits, including numerous veins of the mineral calcium sulphate, a.k.a. gypsum, which is most often found deposited in lake and sea-beds.

The mission team plans on having Curiosity break apart some of the layered sediments to get a better look at fresh samples underneath, and they will have the rover drill into one of these gypsum veins, gather the rock dust into its analyzer, and determine the exact composition of the material, as well as the amount of water that they indicate was in the area in the past.

Check out the Universe Today article for extensive details.

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