NASA’s Curiosity rover has detected boron for the first time on the surface of Mars.
The boron was identified by the rover’s laser-shooting Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) instrument
Boron is famously associated with arid sites where much water has evaporated away. However, environmental implications of the boron found by Curiosity are still open to debate.
Scientists are considering at least two possibilities for the source of boron that groundwater left in the veins: It could be that the drying out of part of Gale lake resulted in a boron-containing deposit in an overlying layer, not yet reached by Curiosity.
Some of the material from this layer could have later been carried by groundwater down into fractures in the rocks.
The changes in the chemistry of clay-bearing deposits and groundwater may have affected how boron was picked up and dropped off within the local sediments.
The discovery of boron is only one of several recent findings related to the composition of Martian rocks.