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.
- 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.