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Mysterious purple spots on Mars investigated

Scientists analyzed purple spots on Martian rocks using Perseverance instruments. The research materials were presented at the conference of the American Geophysical Union.

For the first time, unusual spots on Martian rocks were discovered by Viking spacecraft in the 1970s. Over time, experts realized that they are thin coatings.

Ann Ollila of Los Alamos National Laboratory and her colleagues used several instruments of the Perseverance rover to study similar spots in the area of the Ezero crater. Firstly, the Mastcam-Z camera allows the use of various filters that block certain wavelengths of light, so that scientists can get an approximate idea of the composition of rocks.

Secondly, the SuperCam camera has a powerful laser that vaporizes sections of rock and allows you to obtain more accurate spectroscopic data. Thirdly, Perseverance microphones pick up the click that occurs when the laser is "fired" and allow you to get data on the density of rocks.

As a result, scientists found out that the spots consist of various iron oxides enriched with hydrogen and, sometimes, magnesium. The presence of hydrogen suggests that water played a role in the formation of spots. This is especially interesting against the background of the fact that at the moment Perseverance is not among lake sediments, but on igneous rocks.

Such thin coatings are of particular interest to astrobiologists since similar formations occur on Earth as a result of the vital activity of bacteria.

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