This tube of reddish material is engineered regolith to be chemically and mechanically identical to that of planet Mars. Regolith is a mixture of dust, soil, broken rock and other organic materials. NASA uses this material to test their rovers' performance abilities on the planet and to determine how well crops can be grown on Mars.
This composition, called MMS-2, is made with terrestrial materials to match the compositional analysis performed by the Mars rovers. The relatively high iron composition is what gives Mars its reddish color.
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- 43.8% silicates (SiO2)
- 18.37% iron oxide (Fe2O3)
- 13.07% aluminum oxide (Al2O3)
- 7.98% calcium oxide (CaO)
- 6.66% magnesium oxide (MgO)
- 6.11% sulfur trioxide (SO3)
- 2.51% sodium oxide (Na2O)
- 0.83% titanium dioxide (TiO2)
- 0.37% potassium oxide (K2O)
- 0.13% phosphorus pentoxide (P2O5)
- 0.13% manganese oxide (MnO)
- 0.04% chromium oxide (Cr2O3)