MARS EXPLORATION

Rocks on Mars named after villages in France's Dordogne

NASA's Curiosity rover, pictured on Mars' Vera Rubin Ridge in a self-portrait obtained in February, 2018.
NASA's Curiosity rover, pictured on Mars' Vera Rubin Ridge in a self-portrait obtained in February, 2018. NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS/AFP/File

Geologists from the American space agency Nasa are reportedly naming Martian craters and rocks after villages in the mineral-rich department of Dordogne, in south-western France.

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The move comes after minerals such as nontronite, first classified in France in the 19th century, were also identified on the surface of the Red Planet by the Curiosity rover, which has been exploring Mars since 2012.

In a post on Facebook, physicist Bernard Trégon, from the French National Centre for Scientific Research, or CNRS, said scientists then decided to use the names of Dordogne towns to classify similar rocks discovered on Mars.

Petite surprise d'un ami (Daniel Dorchin) suivant de près la progression et les recherches du robot Curiosity à la...

Posted by Bernard Tregon on Sunday, 14 March 2021

“It turns out that on Mars, the phenomena of rock formation is similar to what happened on Earth, in France, several millions of years ago,” Trégon told France Bleu.

Nontronite, a clay mineral loaded with iron, was first found in 1822 in mines between Saint-Pardoux-la-Rivière and Nontron.

In an article published by Nasa in February, it was revealed that scientists also named another rock "Brantôme", and a nearby landscape "Riberac". Both are small towns in the Dordogne.

Meanwhile the villages of Limeyrat, Coutures, and Sorges were also given Martian identities.

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