International Space Agencies – Missions and Discoveries

Martian ‘Blueberries’

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Martian blueberries

Mains level : Mars mission worldwide and their success

In 2004, NASA’s Mars exploration rover ‘Opportunity’ found several small spheres on the planet, informally named Martian blueberries which find a resemblance to the similar formation in India’s Kutch region.

There have been several missions to the red planet this year. Make a note of all of them.

Martian blueberries

  • Opportunity’s mini spectrometers studied mineralogy and noted they were made of iron oxide compounds called haematites.
  • This caused excitement, as the presence of haematites suggests that there was water present on Mars.
  • The widely accepted formation mechanism of hematite concretion [hard solid mass] is precipitation from aqueous fluids.
  • Hematite is known to form in oxidizing environments hence it can be inferred that water must have played a crucial role in the formation of grey hematite on Mars.

What makes them so special?

  • Indian researchers have been studying hematite concretions in Kutch called the Jhuran formation.
  • These formations are 145 and 201 million years old.
  • Detailed geochemistry and spectroscopic investigations of the haematite concretions in this area revealed that they resemble the ones on Mars.
  • They have similar morphology – spherical, often doublet and triplet – and similar mineralogy – a mixture of haematite and goethite.
  • Hence, several types of research have shown that the Kutch area is a potential Martian analogue locality.
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