As I have stated before you need more than one data set to start a discussion, just one to start and wonder. Before I get started on this just wanted to put my 2 cents in on the Perchlorate, It is in rocket fuel and we landed a rocket, that is from the short bus.

Horts image this morning is interesting because it shows a ribbed feature . Image one. Several other curiosities that I am sure Dana will have a field day. What makes this interesting is that a similar feature was noted at the lander leg and seemed to disappear, Hort image 2. Maybe Hort can take a look at the feature and determine if it is an artifact. Feature is next to red arrow, yellow arrows denote debris skid marks from landing.


Image 1


Image 2


Why a new topic on this? Keep it organised please! The screw next to the red arrow was indeed a scew (i think from the Bio Barrier). We have a possitive ID on that.

But even without the screw, the soil feautures are interesting.

Your remark with regard to the Perchlorate as it being a contamination from the rocket fuel has been discussed before. The outcome is that that is highly unlikely because the phoenix throttle rockets did not contain percholare and a contamination during flight from the rocket into the instruments is, as i said, highly unlikely.

Zoost wrote:

“Why a new topic on this? Keep it organized please! The screw next to the red arrow was indeed a screw (I think from the Bio Barrier). We have a positive ID on that.”

That is not the "screw" feature.

Zoost wrote:

“Your remark with regard to the Perchlorate as it being a contamination from the rocket fuel has been discussed before. The outcome is that that is highly unlikely because the phoenix throttle rockets did not contain percholare and a contamination during flight from the rocket into the instruments is, as I said, highly unlikely.”

Thanks for the info. I was under the impression it did. Was trying to hold down on post.

Thanks, Fred

Those images in the 3D were taken 90 seconds a part I believe. In the right image it is there, in the left image it is not.


I for one think that a "Whos" topic is more than needed - although I think so far we have only seen the streets and houses of Whoville.

The actual whos may not shout loud enough to be heard on this mission. But maybe their grocery stores will be spotted.

Here is an interesting sol 71 RAC study of soil slumping in the scoop.

And a peek under the lander?

And here is a RAC 3D of the soil before much of the slumping had occurred:

I wish I had some idea if the little round "cage" in the center was an accidental artifact - or perhaps part of a whoville zoo demolished by the scoop. ( Oh the Whomanity! )

My apologies Hortonheardawho, as I saw your postings and comments after I had taken that topic image and altered and enlarged a very tenuous number of pixels. I'll help Fred here if you permit, with the largest addition I could make on my image host, cropped to show the pixelated mystery from his original viewing sized start point. These images deserve to be sourced in higher mega-byte sized chips so as to save all this sadly poor detailing. All persons be wary that this image causes some of the 'bead string' formation by processing separate pixels somewhat as separate images. I wouldn't give my image here much weight.
Oddly the dark and the light toned end-pieces of the bright item are present in the 'before' image. There seems no strong pixel line right at the axis. Why a co-incidence such as that? Why is so much of Mars based upon the incredulous statistics of odd and marginal chance occurrences?

Reference Horton's latest post at #4, I am sure that if we were using a Micro-imager more powerful than the MER rovers, we could watch the ice crystals and 'ice spikes' grow and dis-solution like a forest of tree stumps on the soil items.

Can you imagine the smiles on the Phoenix team faces if they had the best quality current imager cameras onboard this mission?

Forgot to include my observation about the rim of the leg pad. The object at the top has repulsed the soil around, perhaps from vibrations on touchdown. Around the rim, the bright roughness at the top=most elevated part of the pad has a sizable collection of 'not-dark' material in appearance. Is the edge that rough, or is that a ice or hydrazine contingent splatter from the landing? I didn't get around to asking anyone prior to this. That subject may have also been discussed on a prior thread at marsroverblog, I just can't keep up to date.
Dana Johnson

Hort your 71 RAC. This is classic sublimation. The sub-surface has moisture galore as my sub-surface diagram depicted,http://www.marsroverblog.com/discuss-73185-water-confirmed.html . reply 10

It would appear a high humidity areas does exist in the voids post-sublimation in the area above solid water ice stability. Possible liquid phase during max heating can not be ruled out.

Dana wrote:

Reference Horton's latest post at #4, I am sure that if we were using a Micro-imager more powerful than the MER rovers, we could watch the ice crystals and 'ice spikes' grow and dis-solution like a forest of tree stumps on the soil items.

Yes, yes indeed but the ratio is the question. It would seem structure is held by the ice crystals at varying depth layers. When exposed it crumbles..

Summertime at the phoenix site.


The latest Hort 3D shows a beaded feature, red arrows. Is this similar to the missing object at the footpad? You would think this is sublimation induced ice formation from exposed ice under lander but why this pattern?

For now lets keep all the beaded features in one place.



It is hard to find Earth comparisons for the Mars environment but I think I did it. The shapes of the ice accretion under the lander is in fact vapor condensation onto a cooold lander leg.

This is an image I found on the net of a liquid nitrogen tank exposed to Earth atmospheric conditions. You can see the patterns are the same including the beaded features. This is not related to the lander pad anomaly.




Could we get a Hotification on these images. Could be, “Who,” related. Looks like a change in soil characteristics. Have no idea.


Sol 69


Sol 74


sol 74 LC2 10:30 - 12:30 changes:


Some of the darkening is due to lighting changes ( which I tried to correct ) but the darkening seems "real".

My guess is the dark stuff is the perchlorate rich soil dribbled from the scoop reacting with the surface minerals.

Are we witnessing the disappearance of organics on the surface???

color by Horticolor: The mind sees -- not the eye.

Hi Hort

Great Image!!

Fred; I think it is a further data point on the phenomenon that is widespread at meridiani and Gusev as well; i.e., the darkening or bluing up of the areas surrounding rocks. I think this is showing us that bichemical or chemical changes on the surface of mars do not need eons of time and can take ploace very rapidly.

I don't know if perchlorate is involved but I think that it is possible that the disturbance of the soil near the trench has somehow freed some agent; microbe, water or chemical, to catalyse or carry out the changes being seen that have taken place relatively rapidly.

I think someone should go back to the earlier trenching images and see if something similar occurred. In any case I think it is an important image.


To further the regional "darkening" idea...

I have never "bought into" the idea that the Martian seasonal "wave of darkening" was caused by "just" seasonal wind blown dust.

But a seasonal movement of highly reactive chemical borne by the annual winds sweeping out of the polar regions has merit.

Now, how to complete the cycle?


NaCl + pixie dust -UV-> NH4ClO4 + NaOH + CH4 + stuff ;


NH4ClO4 + H2O + NaOH + magic -> CO2 + NaCl + other_stuff ;

Perhaps the "yellowish clouds" are perchlorate returning to the poles?

Perhaps the two "kingdoms" on Mars are the perchlorate producers and the perchlorate consumers.

Of course, the chemists can fill in the details of this hand waving.

Interesting stuff, trying to figure out the cycles.

Some types of chlorides are light reative. Turning purple,brown, grey, etc, from clear.

The "basaltic" grey purple soils, on the surface at Merdiani, and spilling from here and there, might deserve a new look.

There are a couple of key points that hae to be considered.
1. There is no change in the distribution of the dark patches.
2. The dark patches are on the bottom of the trench as well as the surface so it is not a depth related influence (perchlorate rich material dribbling from the scoop onto the surface)even if for some unknown reason there were more oxidants at depth where the material is protected from UV than at the surface. But it does seem to be dribbled material.
3.There is a huige difference in the brightness/contrast which gives the impression that the patches are darkening. I am not convinced that they are.
4. It looks like detrius has fallen from the scoop as it moved from scooping to a designated dump area. We need to look at all the trenches in this area and see if there is one with darker material.

From some of my trench images, there seems to be dark material in the voids of the soil. I'm not sure its the same thing or not.

Some of the patchs, do not get darker, while some sure do.

A point i would like to make, from our lack of any real chemical data, COLOR, does seem to be one tool we can use, along with changes, and visual comparisions.

horton and winston, thank you for the visuals.

Yoo Who:

Maybe not a shout -- but perhaps a wave?

See the Flickr comments in the linked image to understand what this animation is showing.

Hort, the background substrate also seems to change in visual response so there seems to be another variable there other than flourescence?

Thanks for the image of the darkening, Hort.
Could be fungi blooming. I'm sure most of us are aware of cases where we left a cup with a small amount of water out on our desk for awhile to find after several days a small colony of black fungi growing.
Species of fungi can be remarkably resilient surviving subfreezing temperatures and high radiation environments:

Brine organisms and the question of habitat-specific adaptation.
Origins of Life and Evolution of Biospheres.
Volume 14, Numbers 1-4 / December, 1984
"Abstract Among the well-known ultrasaline terrestrial habitats, the Dead Sea in the Jordan Rift Valley and Don Juan Pond in the Upper Wright Valley represent two of the most extreme. The former is a saturated sodium chloride-magnesium sulfate brine in a hot desert, the latter a saturated calcium chloride brine in an Antarctic desert. Both
Dead Sea and Don Juan water bodies themselves are limited in microflora, but the saline Don Juan algal mat and muds contain abundant nutrients and a rich and varied microbiota, including Oscillatoria,Gleocapsa,Chlorella, diatoms,Penicillium and bacteria.
In such environments, the existence of an array of specific adaptations is a common, and highly reasonable, presumption, at least
with respect to habitat-obligate forms. Nevertheless, many years of ongoing study in our laboratory have demonstrated that lichens
(e.g.Cladonia), algae (e.g.Nostoc) and fungi (e.g.Penicillium, Aspergillus) from the humid tropics can sustain metabolism down to
-40°C and growth down to -10°C in simulated Dead Sea or Don Juan (or similar) media without benefit of selection or gradual acclimation.
Non-selection is suggested in fungi by higher growth rates from vegetative inocula than spores. The importance of nutrient parameters was also evident in responses to potassium and reduced nitrogen compounds.
In view of the saline performance of tropical Nostoc, and its presence in the Antarctic dry valley soils, its complete absence in our Don Juan mat samples was and remains a puzzle.
We suggest that adaptive capability is already resident in many terrestrial life forms not currently in extreme habitats, a possible reflection of evolutionary selection for wide spectrum environmental adaptability."

Silent spring
Issue 21 of Cosmos, June 2008
by Lauren Monaghan
Deep in the radioactive bowels of the smashed Chernobyl reactor, a strange new lifeform is blooming.
""Our findings suggest that [the fungi] can capture the energy from radiation and transform it into other forms of energy that can be used for growth," said microbiologist Arturo Casadevall from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine at Yeshiva University in New York, USA.
"Fungi are weird, yes. They chow down on everything from decaying plant matter to the more exotic fare of asbestos and jet fuel. But being able to produce their own energy, independent of an actual food source, and use dangerous ionising radiation to boot? That's very new and very exciting, Casadevall says.
"In 1999, a robot sent to map the inside of the reactor returned with samples of a particularly black fungi, indicating an abundance of the biological pigment melanin, which also colours your skin."

Fungi typically have large cell sizes. I'd like to see a MECA microscope image of the black stuff.

Bob Clark