Saturday, September 15, 2012

NASA rover finds 'blueberries' on Mars

There are a lot of things happening right now on Mars, all thanks to NASA. The space organization recently sent its all-new rover Curiosity to the Red Planet, and it has been capturing the headlines ever since.  Curiosity might be the latest and greatest Mars machine, but NASA also has another rover driving around: Opportunity. It was there before Curiosity, and it recently reported back something quite interesting. Apparently, the rover found so-called 'blueberries'; iron-rich spheres that scientists think may hold evidence for the existence of extra-terrestrial life.

A picture sent back by Opportunity shows what these blueberries look like. They are thought to have formed millions of years ago, by interactions between minerals and, supposedly, liquid water. That is also why scientists think such blueberries may hold clues to the existence of Martian life. The newly discovered spheres are however a bit different. Opportunity analysed their contents and found that the iron level is a bit low, and there are differences in structure compared to previously found blueberries.

It is not clear yet what other secrets these peculiar spheres hold for us. Opportunity will continue its analysis over the coming weeks, which hopefully gives us more insight in the secrets of the Martian surface. Whatever it turns out to be, the pictures that Opportunity sent back are interesting to look at. In addition, we will likely see more interesting photos coming from Curiosity as well. These are exciting times for astronomy enthusiasts.

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