Mineral Tells Tale of Watery Past
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Mineral Tells Tale of Watery Past

January 4, 2005
This spectrum, taken by the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity's Moessbauer spectrometer, shows the presence of an iron-bearing mineral called jarosite in the collection of rocks dubbed "El Capitan." "El Capitan" is located within the rock outcrop that lines the inner edge of the small crater where Opportunity landed. The pair of yellow peaks specifically indicates a jarosite phase, which contains water in the form of hydroxyl as a part of its structure. These data suggest water-driven processes exist on Mars. Three other phases are also identified in this spectrum: a magnetic phase (blue), attributed to an iron-oxide mineral; a silicate phase (green), indicative of minerals containing double-ionized iron (Fe 2+); and a third phase (red) of minerals with triple-ionized iron (Fe 3+).

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