facebook
twitter
rss
account
search
search
 

Mars rock coatings puzzle scientists

March 24, 2010 at 4:17 PM   |   Comments

1 of 4
| License Photo
PASADENA, Calif., March 24 (UPI) -- U.S. space scientists say a strange coating on Mars rocks discovered by the rover Opportunity near a crater has left them puzzled.

NASA said the rover spent six weeks investigating a crater dubbed Concepcion that was flagged in advance as a study target because it appears to be young.

The scientists said rocks ejected from the impact that formed the crater are chunks of the same type of bedrock Opportunity has seen at hundreds of locations since landing in January 2004 -- soft, sulfate-rich sandstone holding harder peppercorn-size dark spheres like berries in a muffin. NASA said the spheres, rich in iron, gained the nickname "blueberries."

"It was clear from the images that Opportunity took on the approach to Concepcion that there was strange stuff on lots of the rocks near the crater," said Steve Squyres of Cornell University, principal investigator for Opportunity. "There's dark, grayish material coating faces of the rocks and filling fractures in them. At least part of it is composed of blueberries jammed together as close as you could pack them. We've never seen anything like this before."

While scientists continue to ponder the new images, Opportunity is again moving toward its long-term destination, Endeavour Crater, which is now about a 7-mile drive.

"We want to get to Endeavour with a healthy rover," said Squyres. "It takes a compelling target for us to stop and study. And Concepcion was a compelling target."

© 2010 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
Most Popular
1
Next week's lunar eclipse may feature the color turquoise Next week's lunar eclipse may feature the color turquoise
2
Apple releases fix for 'Shellshock' virus Apple releases fix for 'Shellshock' virus
3
"Man in the moon" likely caused by volcano, not astroid "Man in the moon" likely caused by volcano, not astroid
4
Lamborghini reveals Asterion LPI-910, hybrid supercar that hits 199 mph and gets 57 mpg Lamborghini reveals Asterion LPI-910, hybrid supercar that hits 199 mph and gets 57 mpg
5
35,000 walruses haul out of ocean, crowd Alaskan shore 35,000 walruses haul out of ocean, crowd Alaskan shore
Trending News
x
Feedback