Iron 'Blueberries' May Prove Life On Mars

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posted on Sep, 14 2012 @ 11:15 AM
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Small iron-oxide spheres discovered in Martian rocks may have been formed by microbes, as on Earth, suggesting that life may have existed on Mars millions of years ago, according to researchers.

A photo of the spheres taken by Nasa's Opportunity rover



Nasa's Opportunity rover has found many of the hematite balls - nicknamed "blueberries" by researchers - since landing on the planet eight years ago.

They were originally thought to have provided the first evidence of liquid water on Mars but their existence may hold an even more important implication.

Researchers from the University of Western Australia and University of Nebraska have found that similar spheres, when they appear on Earth, are formed by microbes.

If those found on Mars are made up of a similar composition, it could show that life once existed on the planet.

Sky News


Such deposits on earth have a hard iron oxide shell and are found in deserts and on beaches.

Researchers suggest that Nasa’s advanced Curiosity rover, which landed on Mars in August, should investigate the spheres.


edit on 14-9-2012 by ollncasino because: (no reason given)




posted on Sep, 14 2012 @ 11:36 AM
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Nice news! Thank you. S+F for that.
I am looking forward to hear more about the analysis. Hopefully it could be the jackpot
edit on 14-9-2012 by LiberalSceptic because: (no reason given)



posted on Sep, 14 2012 @ 11:52 AM
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reply to post by ollncasino
 


Nice to see this research finally getting a little attention
www.abovetopsecret.com...
edit on 9/14/2012 by iforget because: (no reason given)



posted on Sep, 14 2012 @ 12:10 PM
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reply to post by ollncasino
 


MOSS and Lichens.. and Asparagus next discovery.
And is not a Joke.
I BET.



posted on Sep, 14 2012 @ 12:48 PM
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Interesting, anyone know how far is the curiosity rover from the spot that has the blueberries?



posted on Sep, 14 2012 @ 01:04 PM
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Similar deposits of minerals can be found on Earth at deep ocean levels. I don't know what role biological activity plays in forming them here. I doubt much.



posted on Sep, 14 2012 @ 01:13 PM
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Does anyone have an idea of relative size of these Blueberries?

I would be curios to know how large / small they are.



posted on Sep, 14 2012 @ 01:48 PM
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Originally posted by phantomjack
Does anyone have an idea of relative size of these Blueberries?

I would be curios to know how large / small they are.


There is a joke to be had there in your reference to the size of those balls.



On earth they


range in size from small marbles to cannonballs and consist of a hard shell of iron oxide surrounding a softer sandy interior.

phys.org...


I haven't been able to find anything in regards to the size of the Martian Balls.


However,according to text below the following picture it states the following which might be usable to calculate the size of the balls. (I'm not sure how image size to actual object sizes are referenced in a picture)


The image is a mosaic of three separate images; each image is approximately 2.5 cm (1 inch) across.
www.lifescientist.com.au...








edit on 14-9-2012 by interupt42 because: (no reason given)



posted on Sep, 14 2012 @ 02:11 PM
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Originally posted by phantomjack
Does anyone have an idea of relative size of these Blueberries?

I would be curios to know how large / small they are.


ok, this is from Opportunity measuring them. 3mm in diameter.


Opportunity is investigating an outcrop called Kirkwood in the Cape York segment of the western rim of Endeavour Crater. The spheres measure as much as one-eighth of an inch (3 millimeters) in diameter. The analysis is still preliminary, but it indicates that these spheres do not have the high iron content of Martian blueberries.


www.jpl.nasa.gov...



posted on Sep, 14 2012 @ 04:06 PM
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That lightning can leave lasting impressions in the landscape is well known. Fulgurites – also familiar as ‘petrified lightning’ – are amorphous, sometimes tubular structures formed when quartz sand is fused under the influence of a lightning strike. Can atmospheric plasma produce similar transformations on the surface of other material than sand?

An affirmative answer is suggested by recent experiments conducted by the American plasma physicist, C. J. Ransom, and the Australian physicist, Wallace Thornhill. The pair discovered that spherules are often created when an electrical discharge is unleashed upon materials as diverse as a piece of iron oxide, carbonates, manganese dioxide, aluminium, magnesium silicate, rutile, perlite, diatomaceous earth, and hematite.

Although these experiments have only scratched the surface of a phenomenon almost entirely new to science, patterns are already beginning to emerge that link the intensity and duration of the discharge, coupled with the chemical composition of the affected metal or mineral, to specific qualities of the spherules that are formed – their quantity, size and distribution, their relationship to craters, whether they are hollow, and so on. For example, it appears that hematite impacted by an electric discharge tends to produce hollow spherules with relatively thick walls.




After spectroscopic analysis, the Martian blueberries were identified as hematite concretions. But knowing what they are called is not the same thing as understanding how they were made. Hematite concretions are one of several types of spherical rocks that are found on Earth but are not completely understood. In the center photo above, we see the Martian blueberries. Compare these with hematite concretions from Texas (bottom right photo), and with Moqui balls from Utah (hematite spheres with sandstone cores, bottom left photo.) Other spherical formations that are difficult to explain include geodes, thunder eggs, and concretions as large as ten feet in diameter.


Blueberries on Mars



posted on Sep, 14 2012 @ 06:01 PM
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Well one little shot with the handy dandy chemcam laser ought to reveal quite a bit but without an electron microscope it would be less definitive than the study.

The amount of total organic carbon in the exterior Fe(III) oxides exceeded measured values in the friable interior. The mean δ13C value of organic carbon from the Fe(III) oxide–cemented exterior, δ13C of −20.55‰, is consistent with a biogenic signature from autotrophic bacteria. Scanning electron micrographs reveal microstructures consistent with bacterial size and morphology, including a twisted-stalk morphotype that resembled an Fe(II)-oxidizing microorganism, Gallionella sp. Nanoscale associations of Fe, O, C, and N with bacterial morphotypes demonstrate microorganisms associated with Fe(III) oxides.

geology.gsapubs.org...
edit on 9/14/2012 by Phage because: (no reason given)



posted on Sep, 14 2012 @ 07:32 PM
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reply to post by Phage
 


Thanks phage I was wondering if that laser would prove useful in studying these blueberries. Let's hope the find lots of interesting things to test with it.



posted on Sep, 14 2012 @ 08:06 PM
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Originally posted by Phage
Well one little shot with the handy dandy chemcam laser ought to reveal quite a bit but without an electron microscope it would be less definitive than the study.

The amount of total organic carbon in the exterior Fe(III) oxides exceeded measured values in the friable interior. The mean δ13C value of organic carbon from the Fe(III) oxide–cemented exterior, δ13C of −20.55‰, is consistent with a biogenic signature from autotrophic bacteria. Scanning electron micrographs reveal microstructures consistent with bacterial size and morphology, including a twisted-stalk morphotype that resembled an Fe(II)-oxidizing microorganism, Gallionella sp. Nanoscale associations of Fe, O, C, and N with bacterial morphotypes demonstrate microorganisms associated with Fe(III) oxides.

geology.gsapubs.org...
edit on 9/14/2012 by Phage because: (no reason given)


True, but the laser is only for 'sniffing' out samples of interest. Once it's found them, it hands over all science to the SAM instrument suite (you'll have seen the arm picking up samples and inserting them into the suite, this last week no doubt).

This will be the actual laboratory, carrying out all the science inside Curiosity. It will be able to detect any organic compounds or volatile organic compounds.


Edit: Forgot to add, check out the Rio Tinto river, and what causes the chemical cycles within it. I know astro-biology and NASA have taken a very keen interest in the river.
edit on 14-9-2012 by AmatuerSkyWatcher because: (no reason given)



posted on Sep, 14 2012 @ 08:16 PM
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reply to post by AmatuerSkyWatcher
 

The chemcam includes a spectrometer, capable of chemical analysis (that's where the "chem" comes from).

I'm not sure a blueberry would fit through the screen of SAM. But if they can get smashed up by the scoop maybe so.
mars.jpl.nasa.gov...



posted on Sep, 14 2012 @ 08:21 PM
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Originally posted by Phage
reply to post by AmatuerSkyWatcher
 

The chemcam includes a spectrometer, capable of chemical analysis (that's where the "chem" comes from).

I'm not sure a blueberry would fit through the screen of SAM. But if they can get smashed up by the scoop maybe so.
mars.jpl.nasa.gov...



Yes, but the equipment isn't as good as in the SAM suite. The Chem Cam is only for finding good samples, quickly.

Sorry, I edited my post after you replied. Check out Rio Tinto river when you get chance. Some interesting stuff going on down there.



posted on Sep, 14 2012 @ 08:22 PM
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Originally posted by Hellhound604

Originally posted by phantomjack
Does anyone have an idea of relative size of these Blueberries?

I would be curios to know how large / small they are.


ok, this is from Opportunity measuring them. 3mm in diameter.


Opportunity is investigating an outcrop called Kirkwood in the Cape York segment of the western rim of Endeavour Crater. The spheres measure as much as one-eighth of an inch (3 millimeters) in diameter. The analysis is still preliminary, but it indicates that these spheres do not have the high iron content of Martian blueberries.


www.jpl.nasa.gov...
No, that's not from opportunity measuring them, in fact your own quote indicates they are not blueberries, pointing out the iron content is lower.

However even though they are not blueberries, they are roughly the same size as the blueberries.



edit on 14-9-2012 by Arbitrageur because: clarification



posted on Sep, 14 2012 @ 08:37 PM
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Originally posted by Phage


I'm not sure a blueberry would fit through the screen of SAM. But if they can get smashed up by the scoop maybe so.


Sorry, getting late here and I should have replied to your whole post.

I don't think they'll be smashing anything up with the scoop. They'll use a drill and then test the dust. Smashing would contaminate the sample, with whatever it's smashed against. They might smash some sediment, to get at a layer beneath though I suppose, but not for samples for testing in a spectrometer.



posted on Sep, 19 2012 @ 06:07 AM
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I know I keep on about this, but you would have thought that the wind on Mars would have blown these non-blueberries into piles, wouldn't you?

I have a feeling that these blueberry things are made or excreted by things living on Mars.
On Earth, there are crabs which make balls of sand which are the remains after the crabs have eaten the minute particles of food between the sand grains. These are just like 'blueberries' except that the sand ones would not be made of the same stuff.



posted on Oct, 9 2012 @ 12:31 PM
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I have a question for the photographers out there. In the large-sized image I downloaded from the
NASA site, I happened to be looking it over and noticed, in the upper left corner, some things I do
not understand. In the area marked A on the image, this is probably a camera flash or reflection,
correct ? But what are the lines going from upper left to lower right on the place marked B ?
Looks like spider webs or twigs or something strange to me. Can anyone suggest what they
might be ? Probably nothing, but I was curious enough to ask.



posted on Oct, 9 2012 @ 12:39 PM
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Thing is, they could have come from anywhere. They could have been in a chunk of space rock from a planet somewhere that blew up. If a big asteroid hit earth they could have flown out. If a supervolcano blew here on earth, it could have blown junk all over the solar system. There could have been another planet in our solar system long ago that got destroyed blowing junk all over the place. That planet is a theory that has been put on the table. Anything on mars could be remnants of that unless there are fossils found in the walls of a deep crevis.





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