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Astrobiology

An Interesting Picture From Mars Update)

By Keith Cowing
NASA Watch
February 1, 2018
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An Interesting Picture From Mars Update)

An Interesting Picture From Mars
“NASA recently posted an image taken by the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) aboard NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity. A reader from Australia contacted me to point out some curious structures within the rock featured in that image. I get a lot of emails like this. Normally these emails include something that the reader has totally distorted using Photoshop or contains some blurry shape on Mars that reminds them of a household appliance or cute little animal. I am a biologist and used to work at NASA’s life science division and have done some fossil collecting in the field. So I’ve looked at things before that look like they are fossils only to determine that they are the result of non-biological processes. I noticed something curious about this image right away. … I have sent an inquiry to NASA. Let’s see what they say. I’ll include their response in a revised version of this posting.”
Keith’s update: My original source in Australia heard from [email protected] to the effect that these markings are the result of the laser used to analyze rocks but that the markings look different this time. I am still awaiting an official response directly from NASA. Today’s lesson: when looking for life on another world it is important to remember what is happening on both sides of the microscope.

NASA Watch founder, Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA, Away Teams, Journalist, Space & Astrobiology, Lapsed climber.

5 responses to “An Interesting Picture From Mars Update)”

  1. Keith Vauquelin says:
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    I looked at the extreme magnification photo linked – what is amazing to me is the regularity of the shape. That is all I am going to suggest as I am by no means a scientist.

    One thing nature does with great regularity is repeat itself.

    Whether biological, mechanical, environmental, etc., nature repeats itself.

    What I find interesting in the photo is the remarkable similarity of each shape.

    Further research my folks far better educated and experienced is necessary.

    Nature repeats itself.

  2. Boardman says:
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    Not only are they very similar in shape and orientation and lined up, but they all seem to have the same internal “nucleus”-looking structure, and in the same upper-left end of all five. Cool.

  3. space1999 says:
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    I haven’t double checked, but the first thing that comes to mind are spots produced by the rover’s LIBS instrument… so man made, not martians. 😉

  4. Robert van de Walle says:
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    Seems likely it’s the laser, with some sort of degradation in the lens or targeting system. Was another process happening at the same time as the laser firing, such that there was some sort of repeating vibration on the rover?

  5. Bob Mahoney says:
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    So Martians have lasers? Cool.