The Guardian: NASA’s Curiosity rover used x-ray diffraction to analyze its first Martian soil sample. Primarily composed of feldspar, pyroxene, and olivine, the sample appeared to be very similar to the basaltic soils in Earth’s volcanic regions. About half of the material was noncrystalline and appears to have been produced by the weathering of rocks. The weathering could have occurred through chemical interactions with water or oxygen, or through impacts from sandstorms or meteorites. Although x-ray diffraction has been used for examining crystals on Earth for more than 100 years, this is the first time it has been used by a spacecraft. The shoebox-sized version of traditionally refrigerator-sized equipment is also being used in the mining industry, and the Food and Drug Administration is evaluating its value for detecting counterfeit drugs.