picture of the day
Tiny craters in Meridiani Planum. Credit: NASA/JPL Mars Exploration
Apr 25, 2008
Mars in Miniature
Mars exhibits many formations whose shapes are independent of
size. Could the scalar nature of electrical discharges be
Thunderbolts Picture of the Day articles discussed the large
dune fields on Mars, the
channels carved into them and the
craters with which they are associated. In many
instances where standard geological and astrophysical
theories have come to no conclusions, we have concluded that
electricity is the one unifying factor that explains how
they all may have formed.
Most of the structures have been examined through the use of
satellite imagery returned from orbital cameras, so
there has been a need to look at the surface more closely.
The Mars Exploration Rover (MER) B, Opportunity, has been
surveying the Martian terrain for more than three years. On
its way to the rim of Victoria crater, it rolled through
fields of dark dunes and white, polygonal blocks of stone.
The stone blocks have been dubbed "cobbles" or "pavement"
because they are so flat compared to the undulating piles of
gravel that surround them. The flat stones are unique in
split in regular polygons with
that are most often filled with hematite "blueberries."
exhibit fractures that
in concentric arcs from what appear to be hollow impact
appear to have been
roughly etched, or
eroded away on top, but the cracks have edges that are
sometimes razor-sharp. Many are
to have been sliced off at ground level from
composed of the same material. The big chunks also
contain blueberries in great concentration.
In the image at
the top of the page, there is a small crater visible in the
edge of a dune with another even smaller version further in
the distance. The crater in the foreground is less than half
a meter in diameter. The one in the background is less than
three centimeters deep.
and undistorted with rounded rims and no blast debris,
so they can't be micro-meteor impacts.
the foreground crater are dark streaks. The edges of the
dune are scalloped and striated. A closer look reveals
that they are covered in small
look compacted and solid, rather than wind-blown and
left by the MER have well-defined edges as if they
rolled through damp sand. The grains are relatively
large and uniform in size and are mostly iron oxide.
are layered with light and dark bands. There are bright
edges on many of the small ridges that lead down to
It is unusual
that dark hematite is so intimately bound up with white
silicon-dioxide rock. Could there be a connection between
silica and hematite? Could the same electric arcs that are
thought to have carved the Red Planet transmute elements -
reforming the atomic structure of silicon (with 28 particles
in its nucleus) into that of iron (with 56)?
space-based images of Mars there are craters measuring
hundreds of kilometers in diameter with dune fields 800
meters high that have identical structure to these one-meter
ripples. On Mars the large and the small, as well as the
light and the dark are starkly defined. Are they two results
of one cause?
By Stephen Smith
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