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NASA's Curiosity rover on Mars found tiny, dark bumps on a Martian ridge that are similar to those found around gypsum crystals that form in drying lakes on Earth, according to a statement from the space agency.
The tiny bumps are less than a half an inch wide. Some are star-shaped, while others are part of more complex V-shaped "swallowtails." The features are not crystals themselves, but could have formed over the crystals, like plaster over a mold. Researchers think the features are yet another sign that liquid water once flowed on the Red Planet.
NASA - Image - Regions - Mount - Sharp
From NASA: "This composite image looking toward the higher regions of Mount Sharp was taken on September 9, 2015, by NASA's Curiosity rover. In the foreground ― about 2 miles (3 kilometers) from the rover ― is a long ridge teeming with hematite, an iron oxide. Just beyond is an undulating plain rich in clay minerals. And just beyond that are a multitude of rounded buttes, all high in sulfate minerals. The changing mineralogy in these layers of Mount Sharp suggests a changing environment in early Mars, though all involve exposure to water billions of years ago."
Members of the Curiosity team are considering multiple possibilities for the features, which were found in Gale Crater, at a site nicknamed "Jura." The site is in a larger zone, called "Vera Rubin Ridge." The team is not sure when the crystal features formed, relative to when the sediments surrounding them accumulated. The crystals could have formed in wet sediment in a drying lake or in water trickling through the sediment underground, after it hardened into rock.
Shapes - Crystal - Mineral - Crystals - Something
It's also unclear whether the shapes contain the original crystal or mineral that formed them, or if those crystals dissolved away and were perhaps replaced by something else.
"Some of the features shaped like...
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