After having landed on the Red Planet more than five years ago, the Curiosity Rover has explored the red planet unlike any other rover before it, making incredible discoveries that helped us understand just how similar Mars is to soil.
Every current image snapped by the Curiosity Rover has helped scientists regain to know Mars a bit better.
By analyzing different images, scientists believe managed to formulate an plan of how Mars looked like in the distant past.
Now, thanks to a fresh batch of images taken by the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI), and beamed back from the surface of the red planet, researcher Barry DiGregorio, author of Mars: The Living Planet and The Microbes of Mars spotted something very strange on the surface of the red planet.
Meanwhile, back on Mars… I’m checking out these stick-like figures. Each is approximately a quarter-inch long. perhaps, possibly they’re crystals? Or they could be minerals that filled spaces where crystals dissolved absent. Stay tuned! Science continues. pic.twitter.com/4oR70BVht3
— Curiosity Rover (@MarsCuriosity) January 4, 2018
While speaking to Inside Outer Space, he said that this could be a groundbreaking discovery:
“They peruse exceptionally similar to Ordovician trace fossils I believe studied and photographed on soil,” he said. “whether not trace fossils, what other geological explanations will NASA advance up with?”
Despite the fact that the Curiosity Rover has offered us an unprecedented view of Mars with improbable images of the Martian landscape, the recently spotted tiny formations on Mars may be the biggest discovery to date.
Mysterious ‘stick-figures’ are clearly visible on the surface of Mars in what NASA says may be crystals or minerals left in the gaps where crystals dissolved.
However, some researchers like DiGregorio believe a different theory: Trace Fossils which offer indirect evidence of life in the past, such as the footprints, tracks, burrows, borings, and feces left behind by animals, significantly than the preserved remains of the body of the actual animal itself.
Now, the Curiosity Rover will head back to the area it first spotted the enigmatic features to recall another peruse. “This site was so appealing that we backtracked to regain to where the rover was parked for this method,” wrote Curiosity team member Christopher Edwards in the January 3 Curiosity mission update.
Despite the fact that the most likely explanation for the mystery structures is a natural formation, Pascal Lee of the Mars Institute said: “The Curiosity images really pique our curiosity,” he said. “It’s difficult to declare what the mystery sticks are, and a strictly mineral origin is, of course, the most plausible.”
The enigmatic miniature tubes could be evidence of bioturbation, which is something that happens when organisms residing in sediments leave an imprint on their structure.
“A typical example of bioturbation is the creation of worm burrows,” Lee explained. “The burrows once refilled with sediments, fossilized, and then exposed by erosion, can discontinuance up looking like wiggly sticks.”
“To claim that we’re seeing bioturbation on Mars — which I did not say — would be an extraordinary claim,” he added.
The difficult section is to science the sh*t out of the discovery, and find out what they are. The structures are really small, around a millimeter wide and five millimeters long. Experts indicate that their angular nature indicates that they might believe been formed by tiny crystals.
Crystal molds are often found on soil and form when crystals in rock dissolve.
However, the difficult section is finding out what they are because, despite the fact that NASA’s Curiosity rover is a small mobile laboratory, it would be nearly impossible to find out whether the structures are biological in nature without taking them back to a lab on soil.
“That’s pretty challenging on soil to distinguish those two things without being able to set these things into a lab to peruse for the presence of organics,” said Ashwin Vasavada, project scientist for Curiosity.
“We believe a very limited capability overall to understand whether something is biological or not.”