Meet Tintina, a piece of broken rock that the Curiosity Mars rover ran over (I've been waiting to be able to say that) on the Red Planet. The rock broke up and revealed an unusual white color that indicates the presence of hydrated minerals that formed when water flowed in that area:
The description of hydrated minerals at Gale Crater follows an announcement last week that Curiosity had found clay minerals in a rock it had drilled. These clays indicate formation in, or substantial alteration by, neutral water.
That is significant for showing that conditions on the Red Planet could have supported life in the distant past, because many rocks studied previously were probably deposited in acidic water.
Speaking here in The Woodlands, near Houston, chief scientist John Grotzinger described Curiosity's landing site as the first truly habitable environment found on Mars.
"What we're really excited about is that this is the first time we've been able to follow through with a whole suite of different measurements that really demonstrate the place we found at Gale Crater was a very viable, habitable environment," he told BBC News.
Paul Rincon of the BBC has more: Link