Flowers on Mars? Photo of strange growth taken by NASA rover probably isn’t alien life

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(StudyFinds.org) – There’s still no extraterrestrial life growing on Mars, despite some chatter around a fascinating photo taken on our planetary neighbor. NASA’s Curiosity rover has captured an intriguing image of a flower-like entity on the Red Planet, but scientists say it’s not an alien flower or plant.

Curiosity acquired the image using its Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI), located on the turret at the end of the rover’s robotic arm, on February 24. However, hopes for a flower garden are nothing more than fantasy. The coral-like structure – smaller than a dime – is thought to be a so-called diagenetic feature formed after sediment deposition.

Curiosity Mars Rover Project Assistant Scientist Abigail Fraeman tweeted about the photo. “A beautiful new microscopic image from Mars Curiosity shows tiny, delicate structures formed by minerals precipitated from water,” she wrote. “We have seen structures like these before, especially in Pahrump Hills. There, the features were made of salts called sulfates.

The Mars Hand Lens Imager is the rover version of the hand lens that geologists typically take with them into the field. His job is to capture close-up images to reveal the minerals and textures of rock surfaces. The device is capable of microscopic imaging of minerals, textures and structures in rocks and soil at scales below the diameter of a human hair.

South West News Service writer Dean Murray contributed to this report.

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