Martian spherules

Martian Spherules

Martian spherules

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Martian spherules (also known as blueberries due to their blue hue in false-color images released by NASA) are the abundant spherical hematite inclusions discovered by the Mars rover Opportunity at Meridiani Planum on the planet Mars. They are found in situ embedded in a sulfate salt evaporitic matrix, and also loose on the surface.

The shapes by themselves don't reveal the particles' origin with certainty. "A number of straightforward geological processes can yield round shapes," said Dr. Hap McSween, an Opportunity science team member from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. They include accretion under water, but apparent pore in the particles make alternative possibilities of meteor impacts or volcanic eruptions more likely origins, he said.

For example, ranging in size from less than 100 micrometers to more than 250 micrometers, similar spherules were found in Moon soil samples collected by Apollo 12 at the Procellarum Basin, and Apollo 14 near Mare Imbrium (Sea of Rains), the dark crater that dominates the Moon's face, and their properties were consistent with expectations for creation by meteor impacts.

"We see these strange round objects we're calling "spherules" embedded in the outcrop, like blueberries in a muffin. The outcrop erodes away as it gets sandblasted, and the spherules (which seem to resist erosion better than the rest of the outcrop does) fall out and roll down the hill. Weird." said Squyres.The spheres may have formed...
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