MessageToEagle.com

Discovery That Helps Search For Extra-Terrestial Life On Mars!

15 September, 2012


Share this story:
Follow us:


MessageToEagle.com - Thousands of unusual gray spherules, made of iron and rock were the most important discovery made by the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity as soon as it set down on Meridiani in January 2004.

A NASA news release of March 18, 2004 referred to these spherical iron-oxide concretions - as "blueberries".

Thousands of them were found embedded in and surrounding rocks near the landing site of the robot Opportunity rover on Mars.

"Blueberries", a few millimeters in diameter, formed within the soft sandstones of Meridiani Planum (rich in the iron mineral hematite deposits, according to Mars Global Surveyor data) when they were soaked with groundwater.


How were these unusual Martian spherules created? Thousands of unusual gray spherules, made of iron and rock but dubbed blueberries, were found embedded in and surrounding rocks near the landing site of the robot Opportunity rover on Mars. To help investigate their origin, Opportunity found a surface dubbed the Berry Bowl with an indentation that was rich in the Martian orbs.
The Berry Bowl is pictured above, imaged during rover's 48th Sol on Mars. The average diameter of a blueberry is only about 4 millimeters. By analyzing a circular patch in the rock surface to the left of the densest patch of spherules, Opportunity obtained data showing that the underlying rock has a much different composition than the hematite rich blueberries. This information contributes to the growing consensus is that these small, strange, gray orbs were slowly deposited from a bath of dirty water. Mars Exploration Rover Mission, JPL, NASA


Nasa scientists, highly intrigued by these objects, had many unsolved questions: "What is the distribution of these things within the soil?" How were these unusual Martian spherules created?

"Are we going to see granules below the surface or are they just distributed across the top? Are we going to see a dense concentration of granules all the way down?"



"Where did these spherules that are embedded in the outcrop come from?". "Did they grow in place? What is the composition of the outcrop? What does it tell us about the possibility that water is involved?"

Now, two scientists David Wacey and Matt Kilburn of the University of Western Australia discovered that microbes helped shape rare spheres of iron-oxide on Earth may aid the newly landed Curiosity Rover in its search for the first verifiable signs of extra-terrestrial life in similar rocks on Mars.



Previous theories suggested these concretions were formed by simple chemical reactions without the help of life. However, new UWA research shows clear evidence that microbes were essential in their formation.

This raises the possibility that Martian "blueberries" may not only reveal that water was present on Mars - but also life too.



Click on image to enlarge

Big spherules near Victoria

Spherules up to about 5 millimeters (one-fifth of an inch) in diameter. The camera took this image during the 924th Martian day, or sol, of Opportunity's Mars-surface mission (Aug. 30, 2006), when the rover was about 200 meters (650 feet) north of Victoria Crater.
Opportunity discovered spherules like these, nicknamed "blueberries," at its landing site in "Eagle Crater," and investigations determined them to be iron-rich concretions that formed inside deposits soaked with groundwater. However, such concretions were much smaller or absent at the ground surface along much of the rover's trek of more than 5 kilometers (3 miles) southward to Victoria. The big ones showed up again when Opportunity got to the ring, or annulus, of material excavated and thrown outward by the impact that created Victoria Crater. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell/U.S. Geological Survey


Wacey and Kilburn used high-resolution NanoSIMS technology at the University's Centre for Microscopy, Characterisation and Analysis to show clear relationships in the Utah concretions between microbe-like forms and concentrations of biological elements such as carbon and nitrogen.

Earth-based analogues for these "blueberries" are found in the Jurassic Navajo Sandstone near the Colorado River, Utah, where the concretions range in size from small marbles to cannonballs and consist of a hard shell of iron oxide surrounding a softer sandy interior.



Click on image to enlarge

Martian spherules, commonly called blueberries, discovered by Opportunity


Researchers hypothesize that some layer beneath the surface in Victoria's vicinity was once soaked with water long enough to form the concretions, that the crater-forming impact dispersed some material from that layer, and that Opportunity might encounter that layer in place if the rover drives down into the crater. Credits: NASA


University of Nebraska Assistant Professor Karrie Weber said UWA's CMCA facility - which is used to study everything from early life on Earth to cancer drugs, plant biology, rocks and soils, and nanotechnology - was chosen because of its demonstrated success in identifying microbial fossils.

The latest six-wheeled Mars Rover - Curiosity - landed successfully on August 6 after a 570 million kilometre journey from Earth. The touch-down site at Gale Crater was chosen for its geological potential to reveal signs of water and past microbial life.

Dr Wacey said scientists hoped Curiosity Rover would find more "Martian blueberries" near the new landing site. Should this occur, the robot is equipped to identify mineralogy, detect organic material, capture high-resolution images and bring humans a step closer to answering the question "are we alone?"

MessageToEagle.com

See also:
Curiosity Leaves Morse Code Symbols On Mars

Curiosity Begins Its Longest Journey So Far

Curiosity Sends Interplanetary Voicemail From Mars And Beams Back First Telephoto

Curiosity Beams Back Strong And Clear Data From Martian Surface!

Curiosity Begins Driving: Landing Site Named In Honor Of Sci-Fi Writer Ray Bradbury

Follow MessageToEagle.com for the latest news on Facebook and Twitter !

Don't Miss Our Stories! Get Our Daily Email Newsletter

Enter your email address:


Once you have confirmed your email address, you will be subscribed to the newsletter.

Recommend this article:

Milky Way Locked In A Complex Cosmic Dance With Its Twin Galaxies - New Rare Discovery
A group of astronomers made a rare and fascinating discovery, searching for groups of galaxies similar to ours in the most detailed map of the local Universe yet. The Milky Way is a fairly typical galaxy on its own, but when paired with its close neighbours...

Watch Mars' Stunning 12-Mile Dust Devil In Action

WiggleZ Confirms The Big Picture Of The Universe

Subscribe To Our Space, Astronomy, Astrophysics, Earth and Xenology News!

Grab the latest RSS feeds right to your reader, desktop or mobile phone.

Subscribe to RSS headline updates from:
Powered by FeedBurner

Go to - MAIN PAGE

Copyright MessageToEagle.com All rights reserved.
Go to - MAIN PAGE


Advertise With Us!

Submissions

Get our top stories
Follow MessageToEagle.com

 Subscribe in a reader

Join Us On Facebook!

Other Popular Articles

"Sputtering" Can Explain How Mars Lost Its Atmosphere
The Red Planet's thin atmosphere does little to shield the ground against radiation from the Sun and space. Though it doesn't look like a nice place to live now, Mars may have had an atmosphere more like ours on Earth! But how did it lose it?

'Dry Ice' Snowfall on Mars Detected By NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter
NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter data have given scientists the clearest evidence yet of carbon-dioxide snowfalls on Mars. This reveals the only known example of carbon-dioxide snow falling anywhere in our solar system...

Curiosity's Presence On Mars Sparks Controversy Already! Are Aliens Watching The Rover's Progress?
It has begun! We all knew it was just a matter of time and now the controversy starts! What exactly is happening on the Red Planet? Are aliens really watching Curiosity's progress? Are these images showing UFOs hovering above the rover, or something else?

Eyes on Mars:


Monday Maneuver Completed - Curiosity Stretches Robotic Arm For The First Time Since Landing on Mars

Nasa's Science Rover Curiosity Fired Its First Laser

Curiosity's ChemCam Will "Zap" First Martian Rock On Saturday Night, Aug. 18 - Target Area - Glenelg

The "Open Road" Before Curiosity - Just Where Will It Go First?

Curiosity's First Week On Mars - Looking Through The Rover's Eyes

Curiosity Delivers First Colored Image From Mars

Mars Rover Curiosity Has Landed On Surface Of Red Planet

Martian Landing In Focus: Curiosity Is Approaching The Red Planet

How Curiosity Will Explore Chemistry On Mars And Search For Signs Of Alien Life

Curiosity's "Grand Entrance" Described By Star Trek's Captain Kirk, Actor William Shatner

Curiosity's Landing On Mars - All You Need to Know!

Martian Polygons and Deep-Sea Polygons on Earth: More Evidence for Ancient Martian Oceans?

An Alien Base? No, These Are Weird And Beautiful Sand Dunes Mars!

Who Or What Created This Large Hole On Mars? Latest Photo Baffles Scientists

Universe:


Sloan Digital Sky Survey III Presents: New 3-D Map Of The Sky!

Doomed Moons Of Uranus: Cupid And Belinda Are On Collision Course

Two Veteran Voyager Spacecraft Will Cross Into Interstellar Space - "It's Just A Question Of When"

100 Years Of Cosmic Rays Mystery - Physicists Gradually Reveal The Nature Of The Objects

Tranquil Galaxy NGC 1187 Home To Violent Events

First X-Rays From The Remains Of A Supernova Observed Over 50 Years Ago


Extraterrestrial Life Is A Censored Subject Says Famous Professor

It is not often scientists are willing to openly discuss the possibility of extraterrestrial life. According to a famous astronomy professor there is a reason why a majority of scientists avoid the subject - it is censored! Even though the general public embraces ideas of extraterrestrial life, science is expected to shun this subject no matter how strong the evidence, albeit through a conspiracy of silence.

Earth's Asteroid Craters Give Clues In Search For Life On Mars

Head Of An Elephant Photographed On Mars

WISE Discovers Millions Of Black Holes And 1,000 Extreme Galaxies Called Hot DOGS
Images from the telescope have revealed millions of dusty black hole candidates across the universe and about 1,000 even dustier objects thought to be among the brightest galaxies ever found. These powerful galaxies, which burn ...

Dawn Spacecraft Is Heading Towards Dwarf Planet Ceres To Investigate The Formation Of Our Solar System
Dawn spacecraft is on track to become the first probe to orbit and study two distant solar system destinations, to help scientists answer questions about the formation of our solar system.

Lunar Paradox Problem: Moon Origin In Focus Again!
There are many secrets still remaining around the creation of Stonehenge. Where did the Moon come from? How did it get there? These questions are still waiting for answers. The origin of the Moon has been challenged many times, each time creating a new puzzle as to how it formed..

W3Counter