Opportunity Sees Tiny Spheres in Martian Soil

MEDIA RELATIONS OFFICE JET PROPULSION LABORATORY CALIFORNIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION
PASADENA, CALIFORNIA 91109. TELEPHONE (818) 354-5011 http://www.jpl.nasa.gov
Guy Webster (818) 354-5011 Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
Donald Savage (202) 358-1547 NASA Headquarters, Washington, D.C.
NEWS RELEASE: 2004-051 February 4, 2004
Opportunity Sees Tiny Spheres in Martian Soil
NASA's Opportunity has examined its first patch of soil in the small crater where the rover landed on Mars and found strikingly spherical pebbles among the mix of particles there.
"There are features in this soil unlike anything ever seen on Mars before," said Dr. Steve Squyres of Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., principal investigator for the science instruments on the two Mars Exploration Rovers.
For better understanding of the soil, mission controllers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., plan to use Opportunity's wheels later this week to scoop a trench to expose deeper material. One front wheel will rotate to dig the hole while the other five wheels hold still.
The spherical particles appear in new pictures from Opportunity's microscopic imager, the last of 20 cameras to be used on the two rover missions. Other particles in the image have jagged shapes. "The variety of shapes and colors indicates we're having particles brought in from a variety of sources," said Dr. Ken Herkenhoff of the U.S. Geological Survey's Astrogeology Team, Flagstaff, Ariz.
The shapes by themselves don't reveal the particles' origin with certainty. "A number of straightforward geological processes can yield round shapes," said Dr. Hap McSween, a rover science team member from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. They include accretion under water, but apparent pores in the particles make alternative possibilities of meteor impacts or volcanic eruptions more likely origins, he said.
A new mineral map of Opportunity's surroundings, the first ever done from the surface of another planet, shows that concentrations of coarse-grained hematite vary in different parts of the crater. The soil patch in the new microscopic images is in an area low in hematite. The map shows higher hematite concentrations inside the crater in a layer above an outcrop of bedrock and on the slope just under the outcrop.
Hematite usually forms in association with liquid water, so it holds special interest for the scientists trying to determine whether the rover landing sites ever had watery environments possibly suitable for sustaining life. The map uses data from Opportunity's miniature thermal emission spectrometer, which identifies rock types from a distance.
"We're seeing little bits and pieces of this mystery, but we haven't pieced all the clues together yet," Squyres said.
Opportunity's Moessbauer spectrometer, an instrument on the rover's robotic arm designed to identify the types of iron-bearing minerals in a target, found a strong signal in the soil patch for olivine. Olivine is a common ingredient in volcanic rocks. A few days of analysis may be needed to discern whether any fainter signals are from hematite, said Dr. Franz Renz, science team member from the University of Mainz, Germany.
To get a better look at the hematite closer to the outcrop, Opportunity will go there. It will begin by driving about 3 meters (10 feet) tomorrow, taking it about halfway to the outcrop. On Friday it will dig a trench with one of its front wheels, said JPL's Dr. Mark Adler, mission manager.
Opportunity's twin, Spirit, today is reformatting its flash memory, a preventive measure that had been planned for earlier in the week. "We spent the last four days in the testbed testing this," Adler said. "It's not an operation we do lightly. We've got to be sure it works right." Tomorrow, Spirit will resume examining a rock called Adirondack after a two-week interruption by computer memory problems. Controllers plan to tell Spirit to brush dust off of a rock and examine the cleaned surface tomorrow.
Each martian day, or "sol," lasts about 40 minutes longer than an Earth day. Spirit begins its 33rd sol on Mars at 2:43 a.m. Thursday, Pacific Standard Time. Opportunity begins its 13th sol on Mars at 3:04 p.m. Thursday, PST.
JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Mars Exploration Rover project for NASA's Office of Space Science, Washington, D.C. Images and additional information about the project are available from JPL at
http://marsrovers.jpl.nasa.gov
and from Cornell University at
http://athena.cornell.edu/ .
-end-
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snipped-for-privacy@earthlink.net (Ron) wrote in message

(Wild guess: fused iron and silica from electrical zaps like you get with 'crop circles') df.
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Despite the fact that crop circles were a hoax perpetrated on the public by two English scientists?
Two Englishmen came clean about their nocturnal practices in 1991. Doug Bower and Dave Chorley, two men in their 60's at the time, claimed that they were responsible for the crop circles that everyone was talking about. Armed with planks of wood, garden rollers and string, the men would stomp and mark an area of a field, thus creating crop circles as we know them.
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<snip>

by
they
Armed
mark
Well, realize that this is a red herring in itself- crop circles have been reported all over the world and for centuries. I am certain that these two gentlemen did not make them all. Not to say that other people did not; that is the simplest explanation, certainly. But that is like soaping fountains around your town and then admitting it; then having everyone assume that all fountain soaping pranks were done by you.
Cheers!
Chip Shults
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If a race of aliens had just traveled 100 trillion miles to our planet, chances are excellent they'd have something better to do than make pretty circles in our corn and wheat fields.
Rick
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Rick wrote:

Crop circles are the imprints left by invisible disguised rock-aliens. I thought *everyone* knew that! *|;-)
--
Geo Communications Services -- www.geocommunications.net
Jo Schaper's Missouri World -- http://www.missouriworld.net
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public
Doug
that they

Armed
and mark

have
these
not;
Yes, they would have to be really stupid aliens. Or they have really cheap unleaded. Or their Nintendo is broken.
Cheers!
Chip Shults
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How about lots of other men or women, maybe younger, with more energy?
rj
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Now, you see? What we need is some lateral thinking here! Everyone wants to talk about the controversy but every is also missing the big chance to do something really cool! I'm talking about automated crop circle producing robots! And if we do a really great job on them, then we can take up a collection and send a few of them to Mars and really give them something to look at! Big geometric patterns dragged into the Martian dirt, complete with the imprinted plywood patterns. Or we could draw a whole body (a la Nazca lines) under the "face on Mars".
Cheers!
Chip Shults
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So what we are saying is that alien robots are soaping our fountains?
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public
Doug
that they

Armed
and mark

have
these
not;
Damn teenage aliens. Go get drunk and play tricks on your own planet, jerks!
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"Rick" wrote:
| If a race of aliens had just traveled 100 trillion miles to our planet, | chances are excellent they'd have something better to do than make | pretty circles in our corn and wheat fields. |
may be their way of fun... or exploring...
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Most fountain soapinga are done by aliens.
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Sir Charles W. Shults III wrote:

---------------------- I've seen the assertion that crop circles are old, but not EVER supported by evidence, in fact, what were once CALLED "crop circles" in prior centuries bear no resemblance to the current phenomenon, and look like simple dustdevil or incipient tornadic resultants.
I have also read now that the assertion that crop circles are old is nothing but a blatant lie by crop circle supporters that can be dated from a specific news conference, and was never alleged in any news or literature prior to its contemporarily recent date.
-Steve
--
-Steve Walz snipped-for-privacy@armory.com ftp://ftp.armory.com/pub/user/rstevew
Electronics Site!! 1000's of Files and Dirs!! With Schematics Galore!!
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So you're not a "croppie" then George? Next you'll be believing that the footprints on the 'Moon' were caused by two long-legged sheilas from Florida, stomping about - I don't know - somewhere...
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member
by
they
Armed
mark
That's right. I'm not a "croppie, as you put it. Nor do I believe that the earth has been visited by "flying saucers". Neither do I believe in the Loch Ness Monster, Big Foot, the Abominal Snowman, or an expanding earth. I do believe in the existence of Australians with male-pattern baldness who use wishful thinking as a substitute for science. I call it wishful thinking because the science is so bad, it doesn't even qualify as pseudo-science.
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______________________________
PS ....Besides, two clean Englishmen is a contradiction in terms. Everyone knows they never wash. Just on that point alone your claim is questionable.
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member
by
they
Armed
mark
As opposed to a certain Australian with male-pattern baldness who spends all of his waking moments trying to disprove Plate tectonics, even though he has admitted not knowing the first thing about the subject?
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Not to mention the obvious give away, that every crop circle photo shows the circle intersects some path or hedgerow leading to the edge of the field. So the perps can get in and out without leaving tracks.

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snipped-for-privacy@tower.net.au (don findlay) wrote in message

PS. Like with those super willie willies taking the dust high in the atmosphere, and then shoot a charge through it, and it all falls like rain. How about that?
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