Mars ~ Meridiani Planum Iron Prospects
Part Two

Evidence of a Water-Soaked Past

History - Continued
A Peek into 'Alamogordo Creek' - June 15, 2006
"Alamogordo Creek"
Thick Accumulation of the Hematite Spheres

Rocks to the left clearly show where they are eroding from the layers
"Alamogordo Creek"
Same as above, but a true color image. It must be remebered that Mars is farther from the Sun, so receives less sunlight, and the atmosphere is much thinner so the amount of available light is low. For a look at the size of the sun viewed from the Martian surface see here.
"Alamogordo Creek"
This is a closeup of the inset in the previous picture

On its 825th Martian day (May 20, 2006), NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity stopped for the weekend to place its instrument arm onto the soil target pictured here, dubbed "Alamogordo Creek." Two views from the panoramic camera, acquired at about noon local solar time, are at the top. Below them is a close-up view from the microscopic imager.

At upper left, a false-color view emphasizes differences among materials in rocks and soil. It combines images taken through the panoramic camera's 753-nanometer, 535-nanometer and 432-nanometer filters. At upper right is an approximately true-color rendering made with the panoramic camera's 600-nanometer, 535-nanometer and 480-nanometer filters. The microscopic-imager frame covers the area outlined by the white boxes in the panoramic-camera views, a rectangle 3 centimeters (1.2 inches) across.

As Opportunity traverses to the south, it is analyzing soil and rocks along the way for differences from those seen earlier. At this site, the soil contains abundant small spherical fragments, thought to be hematite-rich concretions, plus finer-grained basaltic sand. Most of the spherical fragments seen in the microscopic image are smaller than those first seen at the rover's landing site in "Eagle Crater," some five kilometers (3.1 miles) to the north. However, a few larger spherical fragments and other rock fragments can also be seen in the panoramic-camera images.

A Peek into 'Alamogordo Creek' - June 15, 2006 - Courtesy NASA
Evidence of a Water-Soaked Past - March 03, 2004

Seeing beyond the veil of dust and coatings on the surface of the rock, scientists obtained the best views of the chemical composition of the areas. These data indicated that the rocks are made up of types of sulfate that could have only been created by interaction between water and martian rock.

The chemical make-up of the two holes is slightly different, giving scientists an inkling into the geologic history of this area. This history may help to explain the origin of the granular hematite found around the small crater cradling Opportunity and the "El Capitan" rock region.

The sulfates and the other chemicals found in the rocks at this location on Mars also occur on Earth, but only rarely. In places like Rio Tinto, Spain, similar minerals are forming today, and microorganisms live and thrive there.

Analyzing these two clean surfaces created by the rock abrasion tool proves that Mars had interactions between water and rock over extended amounts of time. Life on Earth is sustained by extended interaction between water and the environment. The fact that scientists have now found evidence of a similar relationship between water and rock on Mars does not necessarily mean that life did develop on Mars, but it does bring the possibility one step closer to reality.

Evidence of a Water-Soaked Past - March 03, 2004 - Courtesy NASA
Part Three

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Mars ~ Meridiani Planum Iron Prospects ~ Part Two