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It's amazing what cleaning your glasses can reveal. A mineral-scouting instrument developed at Arizona State University has found an outcrop of rock rich in carbonates in the Columbia Hills of Gusev Crater on Mars, according to a report published online June 3 in the journal Science. The instrument is onboard NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Spirit.

What makes the discovery unusual is that Spirit visited the outcrop, dubbed Comanche, back in December 2005. Yet the data pointing to the discovery languished since then because one of the instruments that detected the carbonate minerals was partly blinded by dust.

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Category: Science