WASHINGTON -- NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity has found bright veins of a mineral, apparently gypsum, deposited by water. Analysis of the vein will help improve understanding of the history of wet environments on Mars.
"This tells a slam-dunk story that water flowed through underground fractures in the rock," said Steve Squyres of Cornell University, principal investigator for Opportunity. "This stuff is a fairly pure chemical deposit that formed in place right where we see it. That can't be said for other gypsum seen on Mars or for other water-related minerals Opportunity has found. It's not uncommon on Earth, but on Mars, it's the kind of thing that makes geologists jump out of their chairs."
http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2011/dec/HQ_11-403_Mars_Rover_Gypsum.htmlGypsum. It's all around us, we see it every day, but not in its natural state. Yet it is so common that you probably don't even recognize it anymore. It is one of the main ingredients of one of the prime building blocks in the construction industry today, gypsum wallboard or drywall. It is in your walls and your ceilings of your home. With this one product finishing the walls in a house which used to take a week or more now only takes a couple of days.
And it's so easy to use nearly anyone can do it. I know that for a fact. I finished off the basement of our previous house. Okay, the results weren't exactly professional quality and it took me a lot longer than originally planned but it worked and it looked nice. As an architect I need to know how to use gypsum board correctly, I don't need to know how to "use" it.
Finding this mineral on Mars is the best indication we have that water was once prevalent on the planet, and if there was water there was a good chance there was life.
In other news from NASA they are looking for new astronaut candidates. While the Space Shuttle program is over astronauts are still needed to man the International Space Station and work towards our manned mission to Mars. Maybe I should apply. They might need an architect.
One thing is for certain, with finding gypsum on Mars when we do put that first human settlement on Mars if we ever need more room we'll at least be able to finish off the basement.