13 years of research have improved the understanding of Mars. Here are a few of the most highlights.
The Meridian Plateau is a home for the Opportunity rover and a possible landing place for a person. A recent document referred to a vast plain that the apparatus has investigated over the past 13 years. Rover and his twin Spirit landed on Mars in 2004 to find the ancient water they found in abundance.
Water flowed on the planet in the distant past, because its atmosphere was thicker. Over the years, solar erosion has thrown away some of the lighter particles, making the atmosphere too thin to have a liquid on the surface. Atmospheric erosion is a new target for the study of the Maven mission, which arrived on Mars in 2015.
In the meantime, Opportunity is working on the surface in a new two-year mission that started in 2016. The rover had memory problems, which made it necessary to change the principle of collecting and sending data to Earth. But overall, it functions well.
Snake on plain
In 2011, the device noticed signs of gypsum (a mineral deposited in water) in the Plateau of Meridian. The mineral vein was about 16-20 inches long and wide as a human finger. Then he found several more such veins around the rim of the Endeavor crater. A similar observation was made for the first time.
“It’s like a 100% hint that water flowed through underground crevices in the rock,” said Corvell University principal investigator Steve Squires in 2011. “This is a fairly clean chemical deposit formed at the site of the alloy. This cannot be said of another gypsum found on Mars, or minerals associated with water. On Earth, such phenomena are widespread, but their presence on Mars makes geologists happily jump around the room. ” Martian waters
It took only 6 weeks for Opportunity to confirm that the tiny crater in which it landed was once wet. One of the first serious evidence was the discovered rock with the presence of sulphates, as well as niches where crystals can reproduce.
“Liquid water once flowed over these rocks. It changed its structure and it transformed their chemistry, ”said Squires in 2004. - “We literally saw the remaining traces of water.”
In the photo you see El Capitan - one of the first Martian stony rocks examined by the apparatus. She showed some signs of water. Further exploration of the surroundings also revealed extensive evidence of sulphates and crystals. Another sign - a sphere the size of a pea. They were given the nickname “blueberries”. After analysis, it turned out that they are made of hematite, which is probably formed in the presence of groundwater.
Jarosite is formed only in the presence of acidic water. This led scientists to ecstasy. The fact is that the acidic water is harsh, but some terrestrial microbes survive in such conditions, which gives hope to the Martian.
The image shows an impressive panorama of the first days of the rover. This is Burns Rock, recreated from 46 different images and spanning over 180 degrees. In the lower right and left of the picture you can see the solar panels of the rover. The stone wall stretches for 33 feet in length and consists of several rock deposits, some of which were laid by water and others by wind.
The rock was named after geologist Roger Burns, who predicted the discovery of jarosite on Mars.
Even “in old age” Opportunity continues to hunt for signs of water. The 2016 image embraces the Martian feature of the Wharton Ridge.
“We are confident that this is a liquid-filled drain containing also water,” said Squires at the end of 2016. “Liquid-cut gullies were seen on the Martian surface from orbit back in 1970, but it was not possible to examine them more closely. One of the goals of the renewed mission is to study them. We hope to find out whether the fluid is mudflow (powerful mudflow) with a lot of rubble, or there is more water in it. ”