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Mars Rover Finds Mystery Spheres on Mars
Space.com ^ | Sept 16, 2012 | Tarty Malik

Posted on 09/15/2012 12:17:45 PM PDT by Young Werther

A strange picture of odd, spherical rock formations on Mars from NASA's Opportunity rover has scientists scratching their heads over what exactly they're looking at.

The new Mars photo by Opportunity shows a close-up of a rock outcrop called Kirkwood covered in blister-like bumps that mission scientists can't yet explain. At first blush, the formations appear similar to so-called Martian "blueberries" — iron-rich spherical formations first seen by Opportunity in 2004 — but they actually differ in several key ways, scientist said.

"This is one of the most extraordinary pictures from the whole mission," said rover mission principal investigator Steve Squyres of Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., in a statement. "Kirkwood is chock full of a dense accumulation of these small spherical objects. Of course, we immediately thought of the blueberries, but this is something different. We never have seen such a dense accumulation of spherules in a rock outcrop on Mars."

The new photo by Opportunity is actually a mosaic of four images taken by a microscope-like imager on its robotic arm, and then stitched together like puzzle pieces by scientists on Earth.

Rock fins up to about 1 foot (30 centimeters) tall dominate this scene from the panoramic camera (Pancam) on NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity. This image was taken Aug. 23, 2012. CREDIT: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell Univ./Arizona State Univ. Opportunity on Mars

The Mars rover Opportunity is currently exploring a location known as Cape York along the western rim of a giant Martian crater called Endeavour. Opportunity is one of two golf cart-size NASA rovers that landed on Mars in January 2004 (Spirit was the other) to explore different landing sites.

The solar-powered rovers were initially expected to last just 90 days on Mars, but each survived for years on the Red Planet. Spirit stopped communicating with Earth in 2010, but Opportunity is still operational.

Despite its advanced age, Opportunity is still pumping out new discoveries after more than eight years on Mars. The rover first spotted Martian blueberries soon after its landing in 2004. The blueberries are actually concretions created by minerals in water that settled into sedimentary rock.

Opportunity has seen Martian blueberries at many of its science sites during its Red Planet exploits, but the bumpy, spherical formations on the Kirkwood rock represent something new, researchers said. In Opportunity's new photo, many of the strange features are broken, revealing odd concentric circles inside.

"They seem to be crunchy on the outside, and softer in the middle," Squyres said. "They are different in concentration. They are different in structure. They are different in composition. They are different in distribution. So, we have a wonderful geological puzzle in front of us." [7 Biggest Mars Mysteries]

Squyres said he and his science team have several theories, but none that truly stand out as the best explanation for what could have created the weird bumps on Mars.

"It's going to take a while to work this out, so the thing to do now is keep an open mind and let the rocks do the talking," he said.

Mars Myths & Misconceptions: QuizNo planet is more steeped in myth and misconception than Mars. This quiz will reveal how much you really know about some of the goofiest claims about the red planet. 0 of 10 questions completeMars Myths & Misconceptions: QuizNo planet is more steeped in myth and misconception than Mars. This quiz will reveal how much you really know about some of the goofiest claims about the red planet. 0 of 10 questions complete Start Over | More Quizzes A Martian spring

The Kirkwood outcrop is just one science pit stop at Cape York for Opportunity. Mission scientists have already picked out another interesting rock outcrop nearby, a pale patch that may contain tantalizing clay minerals, for possibly study after Opportunity completes its current analysis.

Meanwhile, the spring equinox is approaching on Mars, ensuring increasing levels of sunshine for Opportunity's solar arrays.

"The rover is in very good health considering its 8-1/2 years of hard work on the surface of Mars," said rover project manager John Callas of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., in a statement. "Energy production levels are comparable to what they were a full Martian year ago, and we are looking forward to productive spring and summer seasons of exploration."


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KEYWORDS: discovery; mars
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Go to Mars NOW!
1 posted on 09/15/2012 12:17:49 PM PDT by Young Werther
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To: Young Werther

Fossilized bubbles.


2 posted on 09/15/2012 12:20:22 PM PDT by GeorgeWashingtonsGhost
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To: Young Werther

It looks like it was the last planet where followers of Islam became militant movie critics.


3 posted on 09/15/2012 12:20:24 PM PDT by OwenKellogg
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To: Young Werther
Opportunity is still pumping out new discoveries after more than eight years on Mars.

The Mars rovers were designed for a life of 90 days and a couple of hundred meters.

This is one of the few government contracts that exceeded specs. Opportunity is the B-52 of Mars.

/johnny

4 posted on 09/15/2012 12:20:34 PM PDT by JRandomFreeper (Gone Galt)
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To: Young Werther
The moon is made of cheese and Mars is made of chocolate chip cookies.

Where would YOU want to go??

5 posted on 09/15/2012 12:22:28 PM PDT by Sacajaweau
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To: Young Werther

It will be fun when they find gold.


6 posted on 09/15/2012 12:22:48 PM PDT by montag813
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To: Young Werther
Why don't they just ask him?


7 posted on 09/15/2012 12:23:59 PM PDT by KC_Lion ( Wherever I find myself standing, I forever stand with Israel.)
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To: GeorgeWashingtonsGhost

“They seem to be crunchy on the outside, and softer in the middle,” Squyres said.

Chocolaty center, crunchy candy shell?

The mother lode of M&Ms!


8 posted on 09/15/2012 12:24:52 PM PDT by tet68 ( " We would not die in that man's company, that fears his fellowship to die with us...." Henry V.)
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To: Young Werther

Alien eggs. Bring some back.


9 posted on 09/15/2012 12:24:52 PM PDT by SkyDancer ("OF COURSE I TALK TO MYSELF - Sometimes I need an expert opinion")
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To: GeorgeWashingtonsGhost

The Marsian national reserve of dingleberries.


10 posted on 09/15/2012 12:26:00 PM PDT by spokeshave (The only people better off today than 4 years ago are the Prisoners at Guantanamo.)
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To: Young Werther
It is pretty common on earth, in the eastern provence deserts you see it.....

Camel dung

11 posted on 09/15/2012 12:27:04 PM PDT by bert ((K.E. N.P. N.C. +12 ..... Present failure and impending death yield irrational action))
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To: Young Werther



12 posted on 09/15/2012 12:28:56 PM PDT by VanDeKoik
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To: Young Werther

Frozen mud bubbles. ... sheesh!


13 posted on 09/15/2012 12:29:48 PM PDT by MHGinTN (Being deceived can be cured.)
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To: SkyDancer

Alien eggs. Bring some back.

Of course, what could go wrong.
It’s not like they could hatch or anything.


14 posted on 09/15/2012 12:30:57 PM PDT by tet68 ( " We would not die in that man's company, that fears his fellowship to die with us...." Henry V.)
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To: Young Werther
We have nothing to sphere but sphere itself...


15 posted on 09/15/2012 12:31:35 PM PDT by null and void (Day 1335 of our ObamaVacation from reality - Obama, a queer and present danger)
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To: SunkenCiv
Ping!

So this is where the boy's "lost marbles" went from Peter Pan.

16 posted on 09/15/2012 12:34:52 PM PDT by NYer (Without justice, what else is the State but a great band of robbers? - St. Augustine)
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To: Young Werther

Ancient Alien golf range, after the nuclear powered ball picker broke down!


17 posted on 09/15/2012 12:37:27 PM PDT by Noob1999 (Loose Lips, Sink Ships)
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To: Young Werther

Paleo daleks.


18 posted on 09/15/2012 12:37:43 PM PDT by cripplecreek (What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his soul?)
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To: Young Werther
The Mars rover Opportunity is currently exploring a location known as Cape York along the western rim of a giant Martian crater called Endeavour.

I wouldn't be surprised to find glassivation at the edge of a crater, which this photo sort of resembles.

19 posted on 09/15/2012 12:37:43 PM PDT by Carry_Okie (The Slave Party Switcheroo: Economic crisis! Zero's eligibility Trumped!! Hillary 2012!!!)
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To: Young Werther


20 posted on 09/15/2012 12:38:18 PM PDT by Iron Munro ("In any compromise between good and evil, it is only evil that can profit." - Ayn Rand)
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To: Young Werther

They found the Republicans’ testicles!


21 posted on 09/15/2012 12:39:13 PM PDT by COBOL2Java (I'm not voting for Obama, so therefore I must be helping Romney!)
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To: null and void

Go to your room.


22 posted on 09/15/2012 12:42:11 PM PDT by martin_fierro (< |:)~)
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To: COBOL2Java

*shrug* It did take a microscope after all...


23 posted on 09/15/2012 12:42:33 PM PDT by null and void (Day 1335 of our ObamaVacation from reality - Obama, a queer and present danger)
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To: Young Werther
Mars Myths & Misconceptions: QuizNo planet is more steeped in myth

Alright, alright.

I've heard about "blueberries" and "Mars bars", but.... "QuizNo Planet" ??

Come on...

24 posted on 09/15/2012 12:43:31 PM PDT by Izzy Dunne (Hello, I'm a TAGLINE virus. Please help me spread by copying me into YOUR tag line.)
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To: Young Werther

Put them in a swimming pool and see what happens.


25 posted on 09/15/2012 12:43:31 PM PDT by NonValueAdded (Taranto: "The whole point of the metaphor is that if you can hear the whistle, you're the dog.")
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To: SkyDancer
Alien eggs. Bring some back.

Now that they know we're here they'll find a way on their own.

26 posted on 09/15/2012 12:43:50 PM PDT by skeeter
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To: Young Werther

27 posted on 09/15/2012 12:49:42 PM PDT by NoLibZone (Every conservative knew the attacks were coming... 3.5 years ago when Obama was elected.)
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Comment #28 Removed by Moderator

To: SkyDancer

They would look nice in my rock garden!

Ten or twelve to mix in.


29 posted on 09/15/2012 12:50:43 PM PDT by DUMBGRUNT (The best is the enemy of the good!)
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To: Young Werther

Horta eggs!

30 posted on 09/15/2012 12:51:11 PM PDT by ZOOKER ( Exploring the fine line between cynicism and outright depression)
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Alien Pods... some of which have already hatched. Run Rover! Run!


31 posted on 09/15/2012 12:51:29 PM PDT by whiterhino
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To: Sacajaweau

If you’re lactose intolerant like Leonard then Mars is you destination.


32 posted on 09/15/2012 12:54:54 PM PDT by Young Werther (Julius Caesar said "Quae cum ita sunt. Since these things are so.".)
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To: Young Werther

What ? Blueberries? on Mars? wow.

where there are blueberries .. there will be other stuff too..

remember the fauna and trilobite stuff they saw early on with a rover? Mars used to be a plush place, long ago.. or so I hear late at night.


33 posted on 09/15/2012 12:56:13 PM PDT by NormsRevenge (Semper Fi)
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To: Young Werther
For a 'heretical' view of Mars (based on the electric/plasma universe theory):
Blueberries on Mars (Aug 27, 2004)

Martian "Blueberries" in the Lab (Mar 25, 2005)

"Blueberries" Could Redefine Martian Geology (Mar 28, 2005)

The Eggs of the Thunderbird (Dec 03, 2010)

And an excellent video on Mars vis-a-vis electric/plasma universe theory:
The Lightning-Scarred Planet Mars -- Part Two (Feb 13, 2011)
And an excellent general introduction to the electric/plasma universe theory (video):
Thunderbolts Of The Gods

34 posted on 09/15/2012 1:00:18 PM PDT by the anti-liberal
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To: DUMBGRUNT

I’d like to see a Mars mission where the rover thing comes back with stuff.


35 posted on 09/15/2012 1:02:31 PM PDT by SkyDancer ("OF COURSE I TALK TO MYSELF - Sometimes I need an expert opinion")
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To: skeeter

I’d like to see a Mars mission where the rover thing comes back with stuff.


36 posted on 09/15/2012 1:02:54 PM PDT by SkyDancer ("OF COURSE I TALK TO MYSELF - Sometimes I need an expert opinion")
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To: tet68

I’d like to see a Mars mission where the rover thing comes back with stuff.


37 posted on 09/15/2012 1:03:18 PM PDT by SkyDancer ("OF COURSE I TALK TO MYSELF - Sometimes I need an expert opinion")
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To: COBOL2Java

“They found the Republicans’ testicles!”

Those look pretty large to have come from the current crop of Republicans!


38 posted on 09/15/2012 1:03:57 PM PDT by I cannot think of a name
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To: Young Werther

You’ll like this
how to get to mars http://youtu.be/XRCIzZHpFtY


39 posted on 09/15/2012 1:05:53 PM PDT by sunny48
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To: ZOOKER

Ah yes. I remember that Star Trek episode. They found silicon based life in the horta, as opposed to the carbon based life forms found elsewhere in the galaxy.


40 posted on 09/15/2012 1:08:24 PM PDT by Dilbert San Diego
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To: SkyDancer
*** Alien eggs. Bring some back. ***

Uh ... I don't think so.

The last time that was tried it didn't work out too well.

;-)

41 posted on 09/15/2012 1:08:59 PM PDT by Condor51 (Si vis pacem, para bellum.)
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To: SkyDancer

The large mass of mars (like the earth - not our small moon) would require a launch of a large rocket like at Cape Canaveral. NOT like the small moon landers. Sending men to mars would be first - and it would be a one-way ticket. Although I imagine they already have a waiting list for that one.


42 posted on 09/15/2012 1:10:41 PM PDT by 21twelve (So I [God] gave them over to their stubborn hearts to follow their own devices. Psalm 81:12)
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To: ZOOKER

“No kill I!!”


43 posted on 09/15/2012 1:11:20 PM PDT by Uriah_lost (Is there no balm in Gilead?....MiE (Mainer in Exile))
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To: Young Werther
∅bummer's mulligan golf balls?
44 posted on 09/15/2012 1:16:41 PM PDT by carriage_hill (Liberals, democrats & unions - and all leftist scum - are like bacteria: attack, attack, attack!)
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To: GeorgeWashingtonsGhost

“They seem to be crunchy on the outside, and softer in the middle,”

As long as they aren’t coconut creme-filled. I hate coconut.


45 posted on 09/15/2012 1:19:47 PM PDT by 21twelve (So I [God] gave them over to their stubborn hearts to follow their own devices. Psalm 81:12)
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To: montag813

I never thought about but I would not be suprised if they found gemstones, gold, solver, copper, etc, laying around.

Any reason for there not to be?


46 posted on 09/15/2012 1:27:02 PM PDT by winodog
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To: Young Werther

Get Pixar screenwriters working on a feature film IMMEDIATELY! 8 1/2 years?! This is all Bush’s fault. Another of his failed policies, that’s been paying for itself instead of requiring more money like it ought to.


47 posted on 09/15/2012 1:32:26 PM PDT by Eleutheria5 (End the occupation. Annex today.)
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To: Young Werther

It`s The Giant Petrified Martian Toad

48 posted on 09/15/2012 1:34:00 PM PDT by bunkerhill7 ( . Who knew??)
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To: Young Werther

Well, if the Mars Rover had found mystery spheres on Jupiter, then here’d be a story. Shoot, I found The House of Mystery in Orlando.


49 posted on 09/15/2012 1:37:49 PM PDT by blueunicorn6 ("A crack shot and a good dancer")
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To: bert

Your image reminded me of this cool video. :)

http://vimeo.com/48466065


50 posted on 09/15/2012 1:39:54 PM PDT by Daffynition (Our forefathers would be shooting by now.)
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