Using its laser technology, the Curiosity ChemCam instrument located the highest abundance of boron observed so far on this raised calcium sulfate vein. The red outline shows the location of the ChemCam target remote micro images (inset). The remote micro images show the location of each individual ChemCam laser point (red crosshairs) and the additional chemistry associated with each point (colored bars). JPL-Caltech/MSSS/LANL/CNES-IRAP/William Rapin
For years, noted chemist and synthetic life researcher Steven Benner has talked about the necessary role of the element boron in the origin of life.
Without boron, he has found, the process needed to form the earliest self-replicating ribonucleic acid (RNA) falls apart when it comes into contact with water, which it also necessary for the process to succeed. Only in the presence of boron, Benner found and has long argued, can the formation of RNA and later DNA proceed.
Now, to the delight of Benner and many other scientists, the Curiosity team has found boron on Mars. In fact, as Curiosity climbs the mountain at the center of Gale Crater, the presence of boron has become increasingly pronounced.
And to make the discovery all the more meaningful to Benner, the boron is being found in ...