“The rover discovered evidence for low temperature liquid water and environments that would be conducive for life,” said Scott M. McLennan, Professor of Geochemistry at Stony Brook University and a member of the team that published the paper (Steven Squyres of Cornell University headed the team and is the principal investigator for the science instruments carried by the rover). Dr. McLennan noted that this was the third area on Mars visited by the Mars rovers that has produced evidence of “habitable” ancient geological environments.
Opportunity was one of two exploration rovers that landed on Mars eight years ago for what was planned as a three-month mission. According to the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Opportunity reached Endeavour Crater last August after driving for three years from another Martian crater, Victoria.
Dr. McLennan said Opportunity found highly elevated levels of zinc in some of the rocks at the rim of the crater, suggesting that there was a hydrothermal system – warm water – running through the rocks at one time. In addition, veins of gypsum discovered at the crater were strong evidence that low temperature waters had at one time passed through those rocks.
“If we found this on Earth there would be no question that you could find evidence of life,” said Dr. McLennan, noting that the Rover sent back some “spectacular” photos of the gypsum veins.
The Mars Rover Opportunity has given Stony Brook faculty and graduate and undergraduate students the opportunity to collaborate for eight years on scientific study of Mars as part of the Stony Brook Mars rover group, Dr. McLennan said. While Opportunity and its sister Rover Spirit were scheduled to operate for three months, “Everyone felt they had the capability of lasting quite a bit longer, but nobody thought Opportunity would last this long.” NASA selected Dr. McLennan to participate in the Mars Exploration Rover (MER) Mission.
The mission consisted of two rovers that arrived on opposite sides of Mars in 2004. Dr. McLennan has investigated data on Martian rock and surface deposits to gain insight into the ancient climates of that planet and contribute to NASA's overarching strategy of Mars Exploration: "Follow the Water", the search for past life on Mars, understanding past climates and why the climate changed so drastically, and evaluating the planet for human exploration. Opportunity landed in Eagle Crater on Mars on Jan. 25, 2004, three weeks after its rover twin, Spirit, landed halfway around the planet. Spirit stopped communicating in March 2010.
Powered by solar panels, Opportunity went into “hibernation” on a sun facing slope at the crater’s rim during the Martian winter due to reduced sunlight. It is scheduled to come out of that hibernation by mid-2012 or earlier if wind cleans dust off its solar panels. According to NASA, researchers plan to drive Opportunity in search of clay minerals that a Mars orbiter's observations indicate lie on Endeavour's rim.
Scott M. McLennan | Newswise Science News
Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers
20.09.2017 | American Institute of Physics
New quantum phenomena in graphene superlattices
19.09.2017 | Graphene Flagship
Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...
Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.
Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...
MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems Holding GmbH about commercial use of a multi-well tissue plate for automated and reliable tissue engineering & drug testing.
MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems...
Pathogenic bacteria are becoming resistant to common antibiotics to an ever increasing degree. One of the most difficult germs is Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a...
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