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September 15 2012

Spheres spark new Martian mystery


Eight years ago, NASA's Opportunity rover came across strange-looking spheres that were nicknamed Martian blueberries and now the Mars rover has sent back a picture showing a different flavor of berry that has the experts scratching their heads.

"This is one of the most extraordinary pictures from the whole mission," Cornell astronomer Steve Squyres, the rover mission's principal investigator, said today in a news release.

The golf-cart-sized Opportunity rover used the microscopic imager on the end of its robotic arm to take a super-close look at the spherical shapes. These particular berries, measuring as much as one-eighth of an inch (3 millimeters) in diameter, cover an outcrop called Kirkwood in the Cape York segment of Endeavour Crater's western rim.

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