While browsing the first new batch of 2018 photos taken by the Mars Hand Lens Imager of the Curiosity Rover (MAHLI), researcher Barry DiGregorio speculated on the discovery of fossil traces on Mars by the Red Planet robot. DiGregorio is a researcher at the Buckingham Astrobiology Centre in the United Kingdom and author of the non-fiction books “Mars: The Living Planet” and “The Microbes of Mars”.
Measuring a few millimeters in length, these stick-like angular features were visible in the first batch of photographs taken this year using the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) instrument of the rover. Vasavada reported that the proportional characteristics of the “fossils” are very small, probably in the order of one or two millimeters wide, with the longest of the features extending to about 5 millimeters.
“They look remarkably like the fossils of the Ordovician that I studied and photographed here on Earth” […] “If they are not fossils, what other geological explanations will NASA find?”, said astrobiologist and author Barry DiGregorio.
Eager to get to the bottom of the mystery, the Curiosity team sent the robot back to look at it more closely.
“This site was so interesting that we went back to where the rover was parked for this shot,” said Christopher Edwards, a member of the Curiosity team. “In the workspace in front of the rover, we have very particular targets that justify additional questions.”
Although it is not yet known whether these mysterious small structures are really the fossil remains of some exotic species, NASA scientists are not ready to exclude this possibility.
“If we see more… then we start to say that this is an important process that is happening in the Martian area of Vera Rubin Ridge,” said scientist Ashwin Vasavada of the Curiosity project.
Credits image on the front page: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS