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Mars Rover Finds Changing Rocks, Surprising Scientists


DEC. 17, 2015

Note from Jane Albright:

Here is yet another discovery that is completely consistent with and easily explained by Dr. Walt Brown’s Hydroplate Theory for the flood of Noah — explained in the Comet and Asteroid Chapters of “In the Beginning: Compelling Evidence for Creation and the Flood,” online at creationscience-dot-com/onlinebook. I am unaware of any other reasonable creationist explanation for this and many other recent findings about the nature of comets, asteroids, TNOs and similar celestial bodies — other than ex nihilo creation during Creation Week. (Consider that the “very good” creation (Genesis 1:31) would not have included bodies that can plummet into Earth’s atmosphere as meteorites, occasionally injuring or even killing people.)  For more information about the Hydroplate Theory, see videos at
This color-adjusted composite of images taken by NASA’s Curiosity rover in September shows the lower portion of Mount Sharp, which Curiosity has been studying for the last 15 months.
Credit NASA/JPL-Caltech/Malin Space Science Systems

As NASA’s Curiosity rover treks up a three-mile-high mountain on Mars, the rocks are changing. That says something about how the planet’s climate and environment changed more than three billion years ago — but scientists are not sure what.

Since it landed more than three years ago in a 96-mile-wide depression known as Gale Crater, Curiosity has made a number of discoveries, notably that the crater once held lakes of fresh water. For most of that time, the rocks it encountered were generally basaltic, a volcanic composition typical on Mars.

“Now in the recent few months, that has changed,” Ashwin R. Vasavada, the project scientist for the mission, said at a news conference on Thursday at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco, where researchers were presenting some of their newest results.

They have surprising clues but no definitive story, yet.

The attraction of Gale Crater to planetary scientists is the mountain at the center. A space rock slamming into Mars created the crater about 3.6 billion years ago. It then filled with sediment, which was subsequently carved away by the wind, leaving behind the formation known as Mount Sharp.



Images taken by the Curiosity Mars rover on Nov. 27 were assembled into a mosaic that shows the rippled surface of a Martian sand dune. The dunes, located near the base of a mountain, are active, moving about a yard each year. Credit NASA/JPL-Caltech

Each layer of sedimentary rock tells something about the geological conditions at the time the rock formed, meaning that Curiosity, which arrived at the base of the mountain in September 2014, is in a sense moving forward through the geological history of Mars as it climbs.

What has caught the attention of Dr. Vasavada and his colleagues lately is silica, a class of minerals made of silicon and oxygen. The evidence points to the action of liquid water even after the lakes disappeared.

“Groundwater passed through the rock multiple times, leaving different chemical signatures behind,” Dr. Vasavada said.

Basalt is generally half silica. Curiosity has been examining two rock units: one a mudstone of lake bed deposits, among the oldest rocks the rover will examine, and the other a sandstone of coarse grains that were blown in and draped onto the mountain. “It probably is among the youngest rocks we’ll encounter on the mission,” Dr. Vasavada said.

In the mudstone and the sandstone, Curiosity found much higher levels of silica, up to 90 percent more than it had observed previously in basaltic rocks.

“All of this we’re just beginning to piece together and understand,” Dr. Vasavada said.

After arriving at a spot the scientists named Marias Pass, an intersection between the older mudstone and younger sandstone near…

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