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Press Release Images: Spirit
28-June-2007
Water-Rich Environment
This color image shows two vertical trenches of churned-up soil. In the left trench, the upturned soil is bright white. In the right trench, the upturned soil appears bluish gray. Between the tracks is a swath of undisturbed, rust-red soil.
Evidence of A Wet Martian Past

A shallow trench made by Spirit's dragging right front wheel uncovered some of the best evidence Spirit has found for ancient water-rich environments in Gusev Crater -- bright patches of almost pure, fine-grained silica (SiO2). On ancient Earth, warm, evaporating coastal waters deposited fine silica in shallow sediments. In Yellowstone National Park, hot, mineral-laden waters deposit fine-grained silica around geysers and hot springs. The discovery of silica-rich deposits on Mars adds compelling new evidence of ancient environments that might have been favorable for life.

Spirit acquired this false-color view of the remarkable, light-colored soil patch with the panoramic camera on the rover's 1,198th sol, or Martian day of exploration (May 17, 2007), more than three years after landing on Mars.

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell
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