Mars Science Lab Curiosty has discovered fractures filled with calcium sulfates in sedimentary rock units. On earth, fractures like these are often filled with percolates like calcium sulfate – gypsum – drywall – possibly even. The significance is that the percolate material is carried by flowing water or by a fluid that is chemically compatible with water. So this is more concrete proof that Mars is warmer and wetter than previously thought.
Sky watching this week: the Winter Circle of constellations high in the south at 10 pm. Jupiter and the Moon appear very close tonight – Look for the moon after sunset, Jupiter will be the bright star close to the moon. Between red star Aldebaran below and Pleiades above. Another opportunity to observe this is on March 17th.
Plus, Saturn rises just after 1 am and is high in the south an hour before sunrise – 6 am. Venus is low, low in the east 40 minutes before sunrise. Jupiter rises at 1 pm and sets around 4 am – so it’s visible most of the night close to Taurus. Mars is low, low in the southwest just after sunset.
Photo credit: NASA