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MARS - Rock Hunting with Spirit and Opportunity

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posted on Sep, 16 2010 @ 04:56 AM
Everyone seems so fasinated by Martian rocks, judging by the responses in the Martain Anomaly threads, so I figured its time for another 'Rocks on Mars' thread...

I like rocks... I collect them, I cut them and I sell them. Unfortunately I can't collect them on Mars yet so will have to let Spirit and Opportunity be my eyes...

A note to me from an 'insider' via email...

On the mining-thing. I can only state that in the broadest of senses mining operations have taken place on the lunar surface and are presently being conducted on Mars (and continue on a micro-scale, on the Moon). Although the use of terminology, 'mining' has been downplayed (by NASA) and there exists an 'internal memo' . For example, the Mars Rover (Spirit) is actually a micro-mining laboratory, complete with (2) spectrometers (see: ) and other processing equipment/instrumentation.

Use of terminology, e.g., 'mining', could be considered (by some countries) to constitute a violation of the International Space Treaty. Thus, NASA is real-careful about use of terminology that could be considered a breach of 'Policy and Protocol'. I can give you this stuff as it's 'public information'. You have to look between the spaces/lines for more info and draw your own conclusions.

So I guess I can rely on Spirit to help ID the rocks

SCORIA... a from of Volcanic Glass

Vesicular Basalt and Scoria
Panoramic Camera :: Sol 732

Sample of Vesicular Basalt on Earth on my desk... for color reference

Sand-polished Fine-grained Basalt Venifacts
Panoramic Camera :: Sol 733

Image Credit: Dave Beedon

Wind Worn Basalt on Earth
Black Basalt turns gray on weathering, either by wind or water.

According to NASA Basalt on the Moon is not weathered and has a green tint

Apollo 12 basalt 12008. This sample has a mass of 58 grams and is up to 5 centimeters across. NASA/Johnson Space Center photograph S70-44091. - Lunar Sample Overview

edit on 16-9-2010 by zorgon because: Sleeepppyyyy

posted on Sep, 16 2010 @ 04:57 AM

The Evidence for Water On Mars
The Martian "Blue Berries"

The famous "Blue Berries" named by NASA cover vast expanses on Barsoom...

Tons of them, just waiting to be collected

In fact they cover an area about the size of Oklahoma and that are was targeted for Oppurtunity landing because of the Hematite readings in that area..

Fields of Hematite
Opportunity Rover Landing Site

Image credit: NASA/JPL/Arizona State University
This mosaic of infrared images shows the abundance and location of hematite at Opportunity's landing site, Meridiani Planum. On Earth, hematite is a mineral that typically forms in water.


The thermal emission imaging system (THEMIS) on Odyssey is both an infrared camera and a visible camera. It has captured telltale signs of past water on Mars. In four locations on Mars, THEMIS has detected high levels of hematite, a mineral that on Earth forms most often in the presence of liquid water. Discoveries by THEMIS and its predecessor instrument(TES (thermal emission spectrometer) on the Mars Global Surveyor orbiter) led the 2003 Mars Exploration Rover mission team to choose Meridiani Planum as a landing site for its hematite content. Since landing, data from the Opportunity rover's science instruments, including the miniature thermal emission spectrometer (mini-TES) has since confirmed THEMIS' results that the area was once covered in water. "The morphology and thermal properties of the Meridiani Planum region indicate that the hematite-bearing area was deposited in a standing body of water that extended over 100,000 square kilometers (300 miles by 100 miles or about the size of Oklahoma), with smaller bodies of water in nearby crater basins," said Christensen. THEMIS, along with Christensen's two other instruments at Mars (TES on Mars Global Surveyor and mini-TES on the rovers), has shown that liquid water could have been in a few areas within the equatorial region of Mars for thousands or tens of thousands of years.

Source NASA: Mission Success: The Magic of Mars Odyssey

The Blueberry Fields of Barsoom

Blue Berries weathering out of the lighter sedimentary rock..

Closeup black and white..

In this false-color image from Opportunity, a mixture of blueberries and the more irregular, lighter-colored spherules scientists have named "popcorn" lie atop a rock named Bylot in the Axel Heiberg outcrop at Endurance Crater. NASA / JPL / Cornell

Finding the "Blueberry" Muffin Recipe - Mar-2004

Mineral in Mars 'Berries' Adds to Water Story - March 18, 2004

The Evidence for Water On Mars
Part Two: The Martian "Blue Berries"

Credit: Brenda Beitler, University of Utah.

Earth Has ‘Blueberries’ Like Mars - June 16, 2004
From University of Utah Public Relations
‘Moqui Marbles’ Formed in Groundwater in Utah’s National Parks

Part Three: More "Blueberries" & Earth Equivalents

Some last closeups..

edit on 16-9-2010 by zorgon because: Because I CAN!!! Mwahahahaha

posted on Sep, 16 2010 @ 05:39 AM
SULFUR (Sulphur)

Spirit had a broken wheel for some time... that stuck wheel dragged up some large quantities of salt minerals just below the dark reddish sand... reminds one of all those dry lake salt beds in Nevada...

The yellowish material in the images above is sulfur...

Sulphur-rich soil on Mars puzzles scientists
Panoramic Camera :: Sol 790

This image shows the strikingly bright tone and large extent of the materials uncovered by NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Spirit. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell)

The bluish material I do not have an ID for yet

The discovery of Martian soil containing high quantities of sulphur and traces of water has sparked new questions about activity beneath the planet's surface. Scientists are puzzling over the contents of the bright white and yellow soil, first discovered after Mars rover Spirit churned it up while struggling to cross a soft patch of soil in the Columbia Hills region nearly a year ago. The material consists of sulphate salts associated with iron and likely calcium, substances not expected to be found on the planet's surface. Some scientists have speculated the materials might have been deposited in ancient times by liquid water on what is now thought to be a dry planet. However, Ray Arvidson, the deputy principal investigator for NASA's twin Mars rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, said that is only one possible explanation. "This material could have been left behind by water that dissolved these minerals underground, then came to the surface and evaporated, or it could be a volcanic deposit formed around ancient gas vents," Arvidson said in a statement.

CBC News Canada

Deep Tracks In Colorful Salt

Still more salts...

Scoria and Basalt on Salty Dried Lake Bed

Salty Expression (False Color) - January 20,-2006

Spirit uncovered several types of materials distinctive in their color, physical properties and chemistry as a result of accidentally digging a trench 30 centimeters (11.8 inches) wide during a turn at the end of a drive. The white material in this image is brighter than any seen previously by the rover. It has a powdery and cloddy texture and exhibits a high abundance of salts. The materials appear similar in some ways to bright soil deposits seen back at the "Paso Robles" site that Spirit encountered on the rover's Martian day, or sol, 431 (March 20, 2005) while climbing the northern flank of "Husband Hill." Spirit analyzed the bright, yellowish exposures in the lower left part of the frame using instruments on the rover's robotic arm. Scientists hypothesized and then confirmed that these materials have a salty chemistry dominated by iron-bearing sulfates. These salts may record the past presence of water, as they are most easily mobilized and concentrated in liquid solution. Spirit also examined the unusual, pitted rock about 10 centimeters (4 inches) wide in the lower center of the frame. Scientists continue to study the origin of these rocks and soils and the role that water has played in their formation.

Spirit Stirs Up Salt Again
Panoramic Camera :: Sol 1069

Spirit Stirs Up Salt Again

posted on Sep, 16 2010 @ 05:42 AM
Spirit Slips on the Mud ?

Sure looks like it...

posted on Sep, 16 2010 @ 05:52 AM

Okay not a rock but worth including here...

Credit: NASA

Michael J. Mumma: My name is Michael Mumma. I work at Goddard Space Flight Center for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration in Greenbelt, Md. Our team has discovered Methane on Mars. The surprising thing about methane on Mars is tha - first, that we detected it meaning its recently generated. But in addition, we find that it is being released from several discrete vents, or sites, on the planet's surface, in either mid-summer in the northern hemisphere or early spring in the southern hemesphere on Mars. And yet at a later season, we see essentially no methane.

View streaming video here

Credit: NASA

The big question is, "What is the origin of this methane now being released?" The two principal areas are first, by analogy with earth, it could be released and produced initially - primarily - by biology. This'd be microbial activity acting on certain chemicals below the surface and then producing methane as a byproduct.

Credit: NASA

But of course, we can't state with certitude that it is biologically produced, and so we also consider geochemical mechanisms in which carbon dioxide is actually combining with water and producing methane under very high temperatures and pressures, and that methane can then be released into the atmosphere separately.

Credit: NASA

One of the most important consequences of our discovery is that we've identified certain 'signposts' on Mars that basically are like little flags that say' " Come here, here I am."

Credit: NASA

NASA has several missions along these lines; one is called the Mars Science Laboratory. One of the key objectives is to understand whether life ever arose on Mars by sampling the material on the surface and then evaluating that in terms of its origin. You can then appreciate that if you go to this right location, you may in fact be able to identify whether biology was at work, or geochemistry.

Martian Methane Reveals the Red Planet is not a Dead Planet
Jan. 15, 2009


Mars, methane and mysteries
10 August 2009

Many more related links and info..

Martian Methane
Reveals the Red Planet is not a Dead Planet

posted on Sep, 16 2010 @ 06:07 AM
Geysers Discovered on Mars

Artwork Credit: Arizona State University/Ron Miller
Click Here for Detail 2910x4093
This image is in the public domain

Spring Arrives With a Bang

Sand-laden jets shoot into the polar sky in this view by noted space artist Ron Miller. It shows the Martian south polar icecap as southern spring begins.

Geysers spewing sand and dust hundreds of feet into the "air" have been discovered on Mars, scientists say. Images from a camera orbiting Mars have shown the 100 mph jets of carbon dioxide erupt through ice at the planet's south pole, Arizona State University says.

The orbiting camera, called the Thermal Emission Imaging System (Themis), is on the Mars Odyssey probe.The geyser debris leaves dark spots, fan-like markings and spider-shaped features on the ice cap.

The scientists said geysers erupted when sunlight warming the ice turned frozen carbon dioxide underground into high-pressure gas. "If you were there, you'd be standing on a slab of carbon dioxide ice," said the university's Dr Phil Christensen."All around you, roaring jets of CO2 gas are throwing sand and dust a couple of hundred feet into the air."

Dr Christensen said the process was "unlike anything that occurs on Earth". His team discovered the jets through examining more than 200 Themis visible and infrared images. The findings were published in the latest edition of the journal Nature.

Source: BBC News

Martian Pole Freckled with Geysers

Every spring, the southern polar cap on Mars almost fizzes with carbon dioxide, as the surface is broken by hundreds of geysers throwing sand and dust hundreds of feet into the Martian "air". The discovery was announced in the journal Nature by researchers at the Arizona State University, based on data from the Thermal Emission Imaging System on the Mars Odyssey orbiter.

Artist's impression of how the Martian geysers may look. Pic: Arizona State University/Ron Miller

Christensen said: "If you were there, you'd be standing on a slab of carbon-dioxide ice. Looking down, you would see dark ground below the three foot thick ice layer. "The ice slab you're standing on is levitated above the ground by the pressure of gas at the base of the ice." He explains that as the sunlight hits the region in the spring, it warms the dark ground enough that the ice touching the ground is vaporised. The gas builds up under the ice until it is highly pressurised and finally breaks through the surface layer. As the gas escapes, it carries the smaller, finer particles of the soil along with it, forming grooves under the ice. This "spider" effect indicates a spot where a geyser is established, and will form again the following year.

SOURCE The Register

Geysers near Gusev Crater
ESA Mars Express

Image Credit: ESA/Mars Express


This colour picture was taken by the HRSC camera on board ESA's Mars Express, from an altitude of 320 kilometres. It shows the centre of crater Gusev with the landing site of the NASA Spirit rover (marked). Gusev is a crater of 160 kilometres diameter. Earlier in the history of Mars, it appears that this area was covered by water. Because of the probable existence of sediments from this ‘lake’, Gusev is a highly interesting target in the search for traces of water and life on Mars. The area shown measures about 60 kilometres across at the bottom; North is at the top.

SOURCE: ESA Mars Express

Fields of Sand Geysers in E07-01445

Image Source Malin E07-01445

Fields of Sand Geysers in E08-00337

This is from the center of the entire image and shows many perfectly defined geysers. They are sparce at the top of the inage, and increase to the bottom, then the image displays the "spider" effect commonly seen in this area. Further down the image the spiders increase and the geysers decrease, indicating that the spiders may be a second stage event after the geysers.

Image Source Malin E08-00337

Fields of Sand Geysers in E08-01604

Again the geysers increase in numbers to the bottom perhaps indicating a progression

Image Source Malin E08-01604

Fields of Sand Geysers in M07-01830

These are some very clear tall ones....These are the only ones in the big image of note and are located in the bottom corner. The above image has been inverted to better view them.

Image Source Malin M07-01830

More Here..
Geysers Discovered on Mars

posted on Sep, 16 2010 @ 06:09 AM
Great thread there zorgon just wonder what happened to all the water on mars.

Do you remember this.

Martian Soil Good Enough For Asparagus
Washington DC (AFP) Jun 27, 2008 Martian dirt is apparently good enough for asparagus to grow in, NASA scientists said Thursday, as they announced the results of a soil analysis collected by the US Phoenix Mars lander.


So i presume there is still lots of water in the soil the images you show of the track's look very wet.

And welcome back don't let the sceptics drive you away ATS is overrun with them.


posted on Sep, 16 2010 @ 06:12 AM
Running out of rocks and minerals for a bit but still on Geology

Triangular Sharp Sand Dunes

Ripples in the Ripples This image taken by the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity shows the dunes that line the floor of "Endurance Crater." Small-scale ripples on top of the larger dune waves suggest that these dunes may have been active in geologically recent times. The image was taken by the rover's panoramic camera on sol 198

Strange Land Formations on Mars

posted on Sep, 16 2010 @ 06:16 AM
Terraced Mounds

Signs of Cultivation? - Bluebird Files

Sculpted Mesas

MSSS - E0401514.gif

Strange Land Formations on Mars

posted on Sep, 16 2010 @ 06:26 AM
More Sand Dunes

Dune Kisses

Malin Space Systems - M1900307

Galloping Horseshoes!

Who's been trampling over the Martian desert in new NASA photos?

Image Credit: NASA/ESA
Carved by the Martian wind, a series of dunes marches like hoofprints across the desert.

Looking like a gigantic series of hoofmarks, they appear to gallop across the Martian desert. These massive dunes were photographed by Nasa's £360 million spacecraft, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.The dunes, in the Red Planet's Hellespontus region, have been shaped by powerful westerly winds.The wind heaps up the sand in a horseshoe shape also seen in earthly deserts and called a barchan dune. The Orbiter is mapping the Martian surface to select future landing sites. Today new 3D Orbiter photographs were also released showing Mars's misshapen moon Phobos in unprecedented detail. The lumpy satellite, just over 16.5 miles across at its widest, is dominated by the huge Stickney crater, nearly six miles wide ? the result of a massive impact. Streaks running down the walls of the crater show that material has since tumbled in from the rim in landslides. Chief Nasa investigator Professor Alfred McEwen, of the University of Arizona, said: "Phobos is of great interest because it may be rich in water ice and carbon-rich materials." Some scientists say any manned Mars mission ought to start by landing on Phobos - which has negligible gravity - to avoid the much bigger problem of lifting a heavy spaceship off Mars. The satellite (whose name is Greek for "Fear") is thought to be a captured asteroid and, like its smaller twin Deimos ("Panic"), is named after a son of Ares or Mars, the God of War.

SOURCE: Daily Mail UK

Dotted Dunes of Mars

The Dotted Dunes of Mars
2007 August 5
Credit & Copyright: Malin Space Science Systems, MOC, MGS, JPL, NASA

Explanation: What causes the black dots on dunes on Mars? As spring dawned on the Northern Hemisphere of Mars in 2004, dunes of sand near the poles begin to defrost. Thinner regions of ice typically thaw first revealing sand whose darkness soaks in sunlight and accelerates the thaw. The process might involve sandy jets exploding through the thinning ice. By summer, the spots expanded to encompass the entire dunes that were then completely thawed and dark. The carbon dioxide and water ice actually sublime in the thin atmosphere directly to gas. Taken in mid-July, the above image shows a field of spotted polar dunes spanning about 3 kilometers near the Martian North Pole. Today, the future of Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity remains unknown windy dust storms continue to starve them of needed sunlight.


"Defrosting North Polar Dunes"
Original MGS image R19-00216

The Dam

Newton Basin in Sirenum Terra

The Statue

Newton Basin in Sirenum Terra #2

Documentation is available here; Newton Basin in Sirenum Terra

Strange Land Formations on Mars

edit on 16-9-2010 by zorgon because: because Phage told me too

posted on Sep, 16 2010 @ 06:34 AM
Newly Formed Craters

New Craters

New Impact Craters on Mars


posted on Sep, 16 2010 @ 06:39 AM
From Mars With Love

Mars the God of War? Venus the Goddess of Love?

(added post from other thread...

Hmmmm I guess they must have mixed up something there...

I mean look at all the photos of Venus. NASA tells us its hotter than Hell, acid rain, sulfuric acid clouds and volcanoes everywhere. They even colorize the pictures to a 'Lava Orange" "based on the color of that single Russian image"

Images courtesy of NASA

Anyway sounds very inhospitable for the Planet of Love, don'tchathink?

Now Mars on the other hand....

The place is LITTERED with heart shaped craters...

Mars Global Surveyor
From Mars With Love
A Collection of Heart Shaped Craters
"Martian Valentines"


MGS MOC Release No. MOC2-636, 14 February 2004










MGS MOC Release No. MOC2-135, 17 June 1999

Now then... see what I mean? Seems Mars is more about love than war. The pink color? Well it's good enough for Malin, it's good enough for me.

I am sure there will be those 'experts' that will explain this phenomena... but in the mean time... enjoy...

OH and while your explaining... how about these ones?

Eve's Apple



For those who don't know their way around Malin Space System's archives all links to originals are HERE

posted on Sep, 16 2010 @ 06:41 AM
THE END... for now

Happy Face" Crater Greets MGS at the Start of the Mapping Mission - MSS
Image Source MGS MOC Release No. MOC2-89, 11 March 1999

edit on 16-9-2010 by zorgon because: Sleeepppyyyy

posted on Sep, 16 2010 @ 06:55 AM

Originally posted by mars1
Great thread there zorgon just wonder what happened to all the water on mars.

Done a few water on Mars threads already and a Fossil thread.. I will have to look for the water threads, or maybe make a collection with updates as that was scattered as I recall..

Fossils on Mars - A Collection of Evidence

Do you remember this.

Martian Soil Good Enough For Asparagus

Yeah I always wondered why they picked Asparagus... Then a later report said they found PERCHLORATES which is not great for growing Asparagus...

So i presume there is still lots of water in the soil the images you show of the track's look very wet.

New Lake on Mars?

Photograph courtesy ESA/DLR/FU Berlin (G.Neukum)

August 2, 2005

Life on Mars? Who knows? Ice on Mars? Most definitely—and now we've got more cold, hard evidence.

On Thursday the European Space Agency released a rare photo of a Martian ice lake in the far northern reaches of the planet. Capping a swirl of dunes at the bottom of a 23-mile-wide (35-kilometer-wide) crater, the frozen lake is thought to exist year-round. The modest temperature and pressure changes in this latitude would not be enough to allow the ice to melt or evaporate.

Water, a key ingredient for life, is believed to have once flowed on Mars, etching the gorges that crisscross the red planet. Today water ice is abundant underground, cakes the poles, and may even form frozen, buried seas (see photo). But it is unusual to find lonely patches of ice away from the poles.

The new image, taken by the agency's Mars Express probe, shows largely true colors. But the depth of the crater's ice-fringed, 1.2-mile-deep (2-kilometer-deep) ridges is exaggerated by a factor of three. —Ted Chamberlain

SOURCE: National Geographic

And welcome back don't let the sceptics drive you away ATS is overrun with them.

There are skeptics here?

posted on Sep, 16 2010 @ 02:54 PM
Now be nice to us wrongly labeled skeptics. We keep you all honest

Great thread again Zorgon. You have clearly spent lots of time on this. It is appreciated.

I may not believe in the little blue man or the trees on Mars, but I enjoy these all the same.

posted on Sep, 17 2010 @ 01:02 AM
reply to post by zorgon

Zorgon, fantastic work! I really really enjoyed all of the pictures....

I like the green rock from Mars, maybe the Martians are really little green men?

I like the blueberries, and the rocks with the blueberry rivers, way pretty.

Of course, I wonder why Venus is orange, and all angry looking....hummm....

And then there is the pink hearts on Mars...very interesting. I think a man did that. . .


posted on Sep, 17 2010 @ 07:48 AM
I would love to have a panel of palaeontologists study the mounting body of fossil evidence and come to a conclusion in some manner. Can natural phenomenon mimic fossil? I guess that is the question we need to answer. Are there natural structures here on earth hat can imitate fossils of once living species?

Thanks ZORGON for the interesting, thought provoking, and educational thread. Really great!

posted on Sep, 17 2010 @ 08:17 AM
Zorgon excellent thread man , No one could do it better I believe.

Some really great photos and detailed descriptions , mars is surely a geologists wet dream.

posted on Sep, 17 2010 @ 09:23 AM
Wow cool thread again Zorgon!!

I wish I could have some of those rocks from Mars as well.

I love the heart shaped features on Mars, how could it be associated with war when there is so much love on Mars

I will have to look at the rest of this thread later tonight.

and thanks LiveForever8 for linking me to this thread
it made me smile.

posted on Sep, 17 2010 @ 11:21 AM
Who knows, maybe this is what Earth will look like in some places in 8,000 years when other gasses and natural resources refill the large cavities left by oil purveyors:

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