Martian Blueberries

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Martian Blueberries

In the year 2004, NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover ‘Opportunity’ found several small shells on the planet, informally named the Martian Blueberry, which resembles a similar formation in the Kutch region of India.

According to researchers from the Planetary Science Division of Physical Research Laboratory, Ahmedabad, Martian blueberries and blueberries in India share similar characteristics.

Blueberries found on Mars are called ‘ Martian blueberries’.

Key Points:

  • Opportunity’s spectrometers studied and noted they were made of iron oxide compounds called Hematite. This caused much excitement, as the presence of Hematite suggests that there was water present on surface of Mars.
  • In the year 2004, NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover ‘Opportunity’ found several small shells on the planet, informally named the Martian Blueberry.
  • The widely accepted formation process of Hematite concretion is precipitation from aqueous fluids. Hematite is known to form in oxidizing environments hence, it can be inferred that water must have played a deciding role in the formation of Grey Hematite on Mars.
  • It is not possible to estimate the exact time in relation to the age of ‘Blueberries’ on Mars. It is believed that about 3 billion years ago, water from the rocks of Mars became extinct.
  • A study conducted by NASA’s ‘Perseverance Rover’ in 2020 will help in finding signs of life and other organic compounds, which may help to present a detailed picture of the history of Mars.

Jhuran Formation:

  • The team is studying the Jhuran Formation in Gujarat which is 145 to 201 million years old.
  • The Jhuran Formation is characterized by conspicuous black shales alternating with thin to thick bedded siltstone and sandstone.
  • Hematite concretions in the KUTCH area have similar morphology – spherical, often doublet and triplet – and similar mineralogy – a mixture of Hematite and goethite.
  • It has been also argued that the transformation from the wet and humid to dry and arid environment on Mars is similar to the history of Kutch.
  • Hence, the Kutch area of Gujarat could also be a potential testing site for carrying out future Mars exploration studies on Earth.

Source – Indian Express

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