Photo from 9-14-2012

Am I the only guy who's gone crazy over the photo posted this morning from the Opportunity Rover?

As noted in the caption, these objects are different from "blueberries." The shell-like outer layer and internal structure suggest a possible biological origin -- the most tantalizing hint yet. Is this the first day that we saw a Mars life? I'm cracking open the champagne. -- JD

Not just you. It's all over the news now. A real head-scratcher.
My (incredibly non-expert) thought is that it started as some sort of foamy pumice like rock, and these are what deposited there. Kind of like a geode.

The latest article from Dr. Squyres says that these spherules are "crunchy on the outside, and softer in the middle".

I used to have some geodes at home, and they had hard crystals in the middle.

That said.. I can think of a few candy bars that are crunchy on the outside and soft in the middle.



A little like humans, and other animals, even microbiology. A great gesture for astrobiology in equivalencies, but short of content in sum yet. They are really cute from a chemistry viewpoint. Styled twinning and calcite like short blades of crystalline shape, repeats of the blades in some, and a little like the Eagle crater initial spheroids in place where the greatest elaboration was found in 2004 by rover Opportunity.

When I enlarged later spheroids on stems and found count-spiralling transparent ribbon-like structures which opposed themselves as paired twins arcing into the stems of one of these spheroids of the MER rover, I was astounded by the complexity and the near transparency of the structure seen only when substantially altering the images.
Even with limited experience in the subjects I was looking at, it was so unexpected and 'pretty' in the complexity that it seemed to suggest a biological explanation due to the non-contactual spirals and the multiple flower like 'holes' through which the spirals passed in near contact to the stem rods.
Possibly the Mars conditions generate or stabilize complex patterned materials which are nearly never seen on Earth as mineral and rocks.

I have some faith in the images. The same confidence for chemistry, and geology. If the details so not match those subjects in experience, the possibilities are yet open and not confined.

We need yet better microscopic cameras which can see multi-spectral details for narrow channel recombining of images with resolution at the limits stated for Curiosity. I haven't yet seen the limits of the MAHLI camera in images.

Will we see fine detail in these spheroids as well?

Strontium Carbonate rare sulphide vein associated

Strontium in hydrothermal biology associated spheroidalism.

The strontium strengthens the shells of the spheroids somehow, and the cores are less ordered, amorphous, and the shells and even the masses become somewhat angular, facets, when forming a residual semi-fluid after the spheroids are forming.

The association of the minerals has a progression towards a fixation of the strontium in the nanometer sized shells in very small crystalline 'cages'. Much of the Earth research gives a matching pattern for looking to strontium levels in the spheroids parts.
Certainly the geologists have suggested this now. I haven't been reading the other topics these past two weeks.

There is a suggestion that bio and geo actions could be incorporated in the mineral processes. Will more photos or tests confirm the similarities or point to a bio causation aspect?

Misplaced a few research links, but I'll find them for you.

Cute new spheroidalism type.

Strontium levels are elevated all over the Northern Lowlands of Mars. These may be common at many locations? Just a few suggestions and questions.

Do these look like a possible match to Opportunities new find?

Zeolites, water influence, many related aspects seem to be suggested.

Dana, in the latest interviews Dr. Squyres pointed out that the MER APXS is unable to scan for the isolated composition of the new spheroids but only for bulk composition of them including the surrounding matrix. Results so far been a lower iron content of the spheroids compared to the plains "blueberries". They will try to look for other targets for the APXS to make a statistical differentiation for a more specific result of the new spheroids elemental composition. Lets wait for the new more detailed studies (if they ever will be conducted) before going into the chemical details and implications.

Your links above are really interesting anyways and may provide some hints to follow on later! :-)

Strontium in hydrothermal biology associated spheroidalism
It seems to me to be at least a good candinate for possible terraforming?
Thanks Dana.
John D.

The harder shells with residue may happen in other spheroidal chem systems. We couldn't know about Mars on a first observance.
I am still not with the links I wanted to present. Haven't heard from Serpens about what they are plotting on other topics. I'll do a few enlargement comparisons of the blades and repeats in the example image and the Cape York area originals.
Any new images with more details?

The linked sample image of strontianite, a carbonate spheroidalism mineral which has hexagonal and other forms, seems to match some of the mineral shapes in the Opportunity composite photo partial 'berries'. I will try to get a copyright permission to bring the image here overlain on the NASA gray-scale image so others can see the angles and detailed matches between the two.

Knowing the various forms of mineral shapes are probably multiple, with so many non-matching details, I am curious if anyone else has an additional minerals presumption we could filter by comparison.
I have to presume baryte with the bladed and smaller angle figures for some.
Others to suggest?

Any chemical tests or official results?

Grouped as Aragonite in Mindat, described-

" Strontianite, strontium carbonate, is mainly found as a low-temperature mineral in limestone and also found as a gangue mineral in sulphide veins. It (is) almost always fluorescent. "

The undulating lines of the fibers or blades appears a challenge in ID of a mineral match for some of the spheroids.

The linked image and mineral satisfies my ID requirements short of confirming tests of chemistry. Link is at entry #4. Even minor angles and secondary shaping matches precisely for some interior crystalline OP image 'berry' shapes.

Between this and Curiosity we see many signs resembling microbial mats on Mars. Pretty funny that it doesn't get talked about much.

Microbial mats?