|Image Source: Link below|
November 24, 2016 – Published on November 17, 2016, in Nature Communications, researchers describe features in Gusev Crater on Mars that have a remarkable resemblance to hot spring sites found in El Tatio in Northern Chile. The physical comparison of the two sites is uncannily similar.
Spirit, the first of two Martian rovers which finally died when it got stuck in sand, found outcrops of nodular silica distributed across basaltic bedrock that resembles volcanic hydrothermal signatures here on Earth. On our planet we see this type of rock signature near no longer active hot springs and geysers. Such is the case in El Tatio, Chile.
When Spirit first rolled over the Gusev Crater site it used its thermal emission spectrometer to identify the silica in the rocks. The results from Gusev show qualitative similarities to the nodules at El Tatio. Seen below, El Tatio features hot springs, stone barricades and silica deposits in the middle of volcanic basalt deposits.
The next picture (posted above) shows a comparison between opaline silica structures found at Gusev Crater with side-by-side images from El Tatio. The resemblance is uncanny. At El Tatio, the micro-environmental conditions created by microbial biofilm and mat communities thriving in water at temperatures greater than 40 Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) creates the shapes and nodular structures seen on the right. The images from Mars at similar scale appear nearly identical. Some of the rocks examined by Spirit appear to have similar porosity to what is seen at El Tatio to have been shaped by biology as well as by aeolian abrasion (wind).
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