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Once a Martian Sea
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Once a Martian Sea?

October 20, 2009
The iron mineral hematite lies on the surface of parts of the Meridiani Planum region of Mars. Mapped from orbit by the Thermal Emission Spectrometer instrument on NASA's Mars Global Surveyor, hematite abundances range from 5 percent (blue) to 20 percent (red). Hematite often forms in the presence of liquid water. The hematite discovery by this instrument led to the selection of Meridiani Planum as the landing area for NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity. Opportunity landed within the black oval indicated on this image. The background image is a daytime infrared mosaic from the Thermal Emission Imaging System instrument on NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter.


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