Feeds

Opportunity finds new patch of 'berries' on Mars

Microbe-made Mars rocks mystery re-opens as Curiosity keeps trundling

Eight steps to building an HP BladeSystem

The Curiosity rover kept trundling away over the weekend, with NASA reporting the vehicle has now moved 142 meters.

More exciting Martian action over the weekend took place at a spot NASA calls “an outcrop called Kirkwood in the Cape York segment of the western rim of Endeavour Crater.” Ye Olde Opportunity rover is still hard at work in that region of the red planet, where it has found what Opportunity's principal investigator, Steve Squyres of Cornell University called “ … a dense accumulation of these small spherical objects.”

Opportunity has seen such things before. Back in 2004 it spotted similar spherules that came to be known as “blueberries”. Reports of the new batch emerged last Friday.

In a neat co-incidence, just two days before the new find, boffins from the University of West Australia publicised a paper in Geology on the first patch of blueberries asserting they have “clear evidence that microbes were essential in their formation”. That conclusion is based on observation of similar spherules on Earth, which bear “microstructures consistent with bacterial size and morphology.”

The newly-spotted objects, Squyres said, resemble Blueberries but are present in greater density than anything previously seen on the red planet. Initial analysis suggests they are also composed of different stuff compared to the first batch of decidedly ferrous berries.

Happily, NASA says the turning of Mars' seasons means Opportunity will soon have lots of lovely solar energy with which to carry out further investigations of the new berry patch and a nearby patch of ground suspected to house clay minerals.

Sources close to the missions told El Reg Curiosity is not jealous of the retro rover's success, but may have lost “that new rover smell”. ®

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

More from The Register

next story
'BIGGEST BIRD EVER': 21-foot ripsaw-beaked flying HORROR
Fossil avian cruised above sea like toothy ekranoplan
Boffins urge European Commission to reboot electric brain project
Billion-Euro simulated mind project criticised for narrow thinking
Going up: Fancy a virtual flight to 30km above the PLANET?
Space boffin rattles tin for immersive Oculus Rift experience
In space no one can hear you scream, but Voyager 1 can hear A ROAR
Boffins now very, very, sure craft is in interstellar space, and it's picking up 'sounds'
Reg reader fires up Pi-powered anti-cat garden sprinkler system
Crap in my begonias? Oh no you don't, you furry little sod
Phone motion sensors can receive data
Short-range comms keeps secrets better, say boffins
World Meteorological Organization says climate data is uncool
Weather wonks call for more frequent collation of climate baselines
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Maximizing your infrastructure through virtualization
Virtualization continues to be one of the most effective ways to consolidate, reduce cost, and make data centers more efficient.
Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.