15 April, 2013

A To Z Challenge: Mineralogy And Missions To Mars

Jarosite on quartz.
Public domain image via Wikimedia Commons.
Mineralogy is what it sounds like: The study of minerals, such as their physical properties, distribution, and identification. A mineral is a naturally occurring crystal of a chemical compound or an element that has a set (unchanging and predictable) chemical composition.

Last August, mineralogy expanded to a new planet--Mars. The Chemistry and Mineralogy instrument, also known as CheMin, onboard the Curiosity Rover, has already detected several different minerals including jarosite, a mineral formed when water evaporates. CheMin works by drilling a hole in a rock in question, collecting the dust produced by the drilling, and firing a beam of X-rays through the dust. X-rays cause specific atoms to either absorb or emit light--these patterns indicate exactly which elements are present in the sample.

**********

Sources:
http://www.thefreedictionary.com/mineralogy
http://webmineral.com/Mineral_Definition.shtml
http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/mission/instruments/spectrometers/chemin/

**********

If you could send a machine like CheMin anywhere in the Solar System, what would you choose to explore? 


-----The Golden Eagle

18 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I wonder how many new minerals it will discover?

Pat Hatt said...

Be interesting to see the results, it has to go to Pluto, as Pluto got the shaft haha

Andrew Leon said...

Have you seen the stuff for the planned human mission to Mars?

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Mars is a good start. There are some places you just couldn't send it.

Old Kitty said...

Saturn!! Or really all the planets! Wouldn't that be amazing!??! Take care
x

C. Lee McKenzie said...

It will be fascinating to see what minerals they discover on Mars.

Michael Di Gesu said...

That is definitely a fascinating machine. I think I'd pick Pluto because it is the farthest from us....

Mark Means said...

I took a geology course back in college and found it very interesting.

It showed me that science could be fun and not just for superhero origins :)

prerna pickett said...

this is really interesting stuff! And really cool to think how far we've come.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I would like to know about all of them including the comets that are just passing through.

Krista McLaughlin said...

That's a neat picture! I like that they have included Mars. I'd still like to travel to space someday and see it. :)

Rob-bear said...

I'm not sure I'm that much of an explorer. I know others are, so I'll leave it to them. But I'd love to write about it.

Blessings and Bear hugs!
Bears Noting

Pearson Report said...

How interesting - thanks for sharing this little insight into minerals on Mars.

I'm a fan of Mars - I'm all about being curious!


Jenny @ PEARSON REPORT

Jagoda said...

Mars is a perfect start since NASA has a vision of a space colony on that planet.

Charles Gramlich said...

Sure would love to see my footprints across Mars.

The Golden Eagle said...

Alex: Who knows. It depends on how similar Mars is in composition to Earth--and of course, that's partly what the rover was sent there to find out.

Pat: LOL. I think Pluto's status as a dust belt object is better than calling it a planet . . . but it would be interesting to explore, nevertheless!

Andrew: Some of it. I don't know a whole lot of details about the program, though.

Diane: True! Venus, for one; probes sent there have all been destroyed by the atmosphere shortly after landing.

Old Kitty: It definitely would be!

Lee: Agreed. :)

Michael: I think they've found objects even further out from the Sun--it would be neat to find out what's at the edge of our solar system!

Mark: Science is awesome. :)

Prerna: And in only a few decades; though it still feels like we could be moving a lot faster!

Susan: Comets are fascinating objects. Some have come from so far away . . . it's intriguing to think about what they might have seen.

Krista: Me, too. :)

Rob-bear: I'd be happy with either--exploring space myself is something I'd jump onboard to do, given the chance!

Jenny: You're welcome.

Mars is becoming more and more interesting the more they learn about the planet.

Jagoda: I'd totally join that space colony if they were looking for inhabitants.

Charles: Same here. Though at this rate, I'd settle for the Moon!

Paul Tobin said...

I would like them to go to Mars

The Golden Eagle said...

Paul: Good thing CheMin's exploring there! :)