'Vanilla' Under the Microscope

Part of the "Eagle Crater" soil survey, this three-centimeter by three-centimeter (1.2-inch by 1.2-inch) microscopic image of the target called "Vanilla" within the "Neopolitan" area was taken on the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity's 53rd sol, or day, on Mars. The image features small grains one millimeter (0.04 inch) or less in size and somewhat lighter in color than those in other soil units observed in the crater. Before this picture was taken, the rover's Moessbauer spectrometer took measurements of the target and pressed some of the grains into the surrounding finer-grained soil.

Image credit: NASA/JPL/Cornell/USGS