Palermo Project • Mars Exploration Rover

Rock Anomalies. Page 4.

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The microimager on the Rovers are bringing back astounding close-up images of the martian surface. At the Opportunity site it is finding mysterious spheres in the martian soil. My first impression was that the round objects with a hole on one end reminded me of either diatoms or spores or pollen. I contacted a palynologist and she thought it was unlikely that the bigger spheres were pollen related because of their size, on earth they are much smaller. Unfortunately the microimager is not a microscope so we cannot get higher magnified samples. There is a planned Mars Sample return mission, maybe then the question of martian pollen can be investigated.

This leaves the other possibility..fossils of small sea life forms.

Microscopic Imager image.

Mr. Brian Mason, a high school biology teacher emailed me the above example of a foraminifera and wrote..".. as a biology teacher, I notice particles which look incredibly similar to weathered coral or bryozoan skeletons on Earth (circled in yellow). Furthermore, the spheres resemble the skeletons of one-celled marine organisms called Foraminifera.."

While NASA/JPL are busy trying to find a geologic explantion for these microscopic features, maybe they should consider martian marine fossils.

An example of Planktonic foraminifera.

image from