Mars rover Curiosity has more than a name going for it. It’s just discovered a Martian “flower”, an unusual mineral formation which has everybody guessing. The “flower" is definitely different.
I’ve been watching since the first rover landed over a decade ago, and this is very new.
Sydney Morning Herald quotes the original Mashable article:
The so-called Mars "flower" photo was snapped on December 19 by the microscope-like Mars Hand Lens Imager at the end of Curiosity's robotic arm. At the lower left of the image is a strange, apparently transparent formation that some internet forum users on the website claimed looked like a flower, according to NBCNews.com's photoblog.
Some previous finds have been debris from rovers, but that doesn’t seem to be the case this time. The soil surface is pretty rough, solid and looks unsympathetic and impenetrable to fragile foreign objects.
Best guess from me is that it’s a different type of mineralization. The morphology doesn’t have anything in common with surrounding forms and it’s clearly partially embedded, perhaps a leftover from some exotic material on that surface. The “petals" have a common morphology, suggesting a single chemical mineralization process different from the surrounding materials.
Unless the “flower” was somehow locally subjected to severe heat and nothing else in the area was, it’s literally a flower in a desert.
Mars is a huge learning factory for geologists. This is xenogeology in its truest form so far, and the dusty place is teaching lessons not in the textbooks. Looks like the “flower” is one of them.
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