The Rover Has Found Evidence of Water and Microscopic Life on Mars

Mars rover Opportunity has found pronounced mineral veins, as it turned out gypsum, which were formed with the participation of water. Their analysis will deepen our understanding of the history of the environment on Mars.

Mars rover Opportunity has found pronounced mineral veins, as it turned out gypsum, which were formed with the participation of water. Their analysis will deepen our understanding of the history of the environment on Mars.

“We have ample evidence that water flowed through underground fissures in the rock,” – said Steve Skvayrz from Cornell University in Ithaca, Research Project Manager Opportunity.

Dimensions of veins, which investigated the rover Opportunity, and the width does not exceed the human thumb (1-2 cm) in length and 40-50 cm

Spectrometer detected large amounts of calcium and sulfur, in the proportion indicating a fairly pure calcium sulfate.

Calcium sulfate can exist in many forms, depending on how much water is contained in the mineral crystal structure. With the camera information, suggests that it is detected hydrated calcium sulfate or gypsum. On Earth, this material is used for the manufacture of plasterboard and plaster. Previous observations have shown the same presence of gypsum on Mars.

“It remains a mystery as gypsum dunes have formed in the north of Mars,” – said science team member Opportunity, Benton Clark. 

Gypsum or other form of calcium sulfate, most likely formed from the water solution of calcium of volcanic rock. Calcium is mixed with sulfur, which has been leached from the rock or came in the form of a volcanic gas sank in the form of calcium sulfate in an underground fault, which later became an open surface.

For the formation of a highly concentrated calcium sulfate, the presence of neutral water, but not highly acidic. This discovery this is different from all previous ones.

“For its formation required a different type of water, more friendly to a wide range of living organisms,” – said Clark.

Originally, Opportunity and its twin, Spirit, have been calculated on a three-month mission, which ended in April 2004. Despite this, both rovers continue to function for many years, making important discoveries about the presence of water on Mars, suggesting the presence of microscopic life forms. Although the Spirit is no longer responds to signals, Opportunity continued to conduct research.

November 26 this year, NASA launched the next-generation rover, Curiosity, which will arrive at the crater Gale in August 2012.

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