By Elizabeth Landau, CNN
Last week we learned that, yes, Mars could have hosted life, based on the analysis of powder procured by rover Curiosity drilling into the Red Planet.
Now, data from other instruments on board Curiosity show more evidence of water in the area. The rover's Mast Camera (Mastcam) spotted evidence of water-bearing minerals in the "Yellowknife Bay" area where Curiosity drilled. Mastcam has infrared-imaging capability that allows scientists to detect certain minerals.
Scientists released the news at a briefing at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in The Woodlands, Texas.
"With Mastcam, we see elevated hydration signals in the narrow veins that cut many of the rocks in this area," Melissa Rice of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena said in a statement. "These bright veins contain hydrated minerals that are different from the clay minerals in the surrounding rock matrix."
Another instrument on board Curiosity adds to these findings. The Russian-made Dynamic Albedo of Neutrons tool detected hydrogen under the rover that appears to be part of water molecules that are bound into minerals. There is more of this evidence of water at Yellowknife Bay than at other sites Curiosity has visited so far, researchers said.
The clay that Curiosity discovered during its drilling must have been created by wet environmental processes, NASA said. The overall mix of chemical elements didn't change much when the clays were produced, scientists said. Information from the Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer, a Canadian-made technology, delivered this insight.
The rock outcrop into which Curiosity drilled appears to have an elemental composition that matches basalt, the most commonly seen rock on Mars.
Curiosity landed on Mars on August 6. The rover weighs 2 tons and is about the size of a small SUV. The mission costs $2.5 billion.
Read about last week's results
By Elizabeth Landau and Polina Marinova, CNN
Stargazers in North America were delighted this week to see a highly anticipated comet make an appearance in the March sky.
The comet is called Pan-STARRS, and it gets its funky name from the telescope credited with discovering it in June 2001: the Panoramic Survey Telescope & Rapid Response System in Hawaii.
Brian Karczewski, 24, got a great shot of the comet from a California church parking lot and submitted an iReport about it.
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July 19thAtlas V launch of US DOD MUOS-2 satellite, notable for large "551" config of Atlas
Aug 3rdJapanese HTV-4 flight to ISS on cargo supply mission
Aug 14thSpaceX launch of Canadian satellite in the first launch from their new Vandenberg facility, and first launch of upgraded Falcon 9 v1.1 launch vehicle
Aug 28thDelta IV Heavy launch of NROL-65 spy satellite
SeptemberSoyuz TMA-08M flight returning Expedition 36 crew from ISS to Earth (Kazakhstan)
Sept 12thOrbital Sciences maiden flight of Cygnus cargo vehicle on Antares rocket to ISS
Sept 25thSoyuz TMA-10M flight launching Expedition 38 crew to ISS
Dec 9thSpaceX Dragon launch by Falcon 9 v1.1 on CRS-3 cargo supply mission to ISS
recurringfirst powered test flights of Scaled Composites' SpaceShipTwo commercial vehicle, to be used by Virgin Galactic for sub-orbital tourism