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PostPosted: Sat Mar 27, 2010 7:48 pm 
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Rover cracks mystery of Mars spheres
By Leonard David
Friday, March 19, 2004 Posted: 9:38 AM EST (1438 GMT)

Scientists say the nodules on the martian surface, seen in this picture, are made up of hematite, an iron ore.

(SPACE.com) -- Scientists have learned the composition of the mysterious sphere-shaped objects scattered across the crater floor at Meridiani Planum, the landing site of the Opportunity Mars rover.

By using a Mössbauer Spectrometer mounted on Opportunity's robot arm, a patch of the tiny spherules -- also called "blueberries," although they are not blue -- received close examination and have now been identified as hematite.

The spectrometer is designed to study minerals that contain iron, which are common on the martian surface. Also used to pin down the makeup of the spherules was the rover's Mini-Thermal Emission Spectrometer, a scientific instrument that can recognize minerals formed in water.

Article & photos at the link.

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