Researchers at Arizona State University working with NASA-affiliated scientists have found that the surface of Mars houses a supply of opal. The semi-precious gemstones form when silica dissolves in water—a process that suggests the region may have once held far more water than we believe. Since water and silica can be separated, the existence of opals also acts as a possible future water source, supporting the dream of one day living on the planet. Discovered in abundance throughout the ancient lake bed known as Gale Crater, these gemstones could also indicate that Mars supports undetected water today. “Given the widespread fracture networks discovered in Gale Crater, it’s reasonable to expect that these potentially habitable subsurface conditions extended to many other regions of Gale Crater as well, and perhaps in other regions of Mars,” says lead author of the study Travis Gabriel. Learn more at MSN.
Image courtesy of Madhav Fallusion