Mars crater is ‘chock-full’ of opal gemstones, hinting at widespread water and possible microbial life

Light-toned fracture halos as seen crosscutting the bedrock extend into the subsurface. These fracture networks would have served as safe havens from harsh surface conditions in a modern period on Mars.

An ancient, dried-up lake bed on Mars may be teeming with opal gemstones, new data from NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover suggests. 

Beyond giving the cracked surface of Mars’ Gale Crater a semiprecious glint, these opals could be evidence that water and rock have been interacting beneath the Martian surface much more recently than was previously thought, improving the prospects that microbial life once lived there, according to a study published Dec. 19 in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets (opens in new tab)

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