Tree Root on Mars?
The magnificent Mars Opportunity Rover has discovered something really new at a location designated ‘Homestake’. This is currently described as a ‘vein’, which is very bright in contrast to the surrounding rock. Quoting from the November 2011 Rover Update referring to chief scientist Steve Sqyres:
“While Squyres, not surprisingly, wouldn’t “hazard a guess” as to what they may find in that vein, he did say this: “These are different than anything from anything we’ve ever seen with either rover, a completely new thing on Mars, never seen anywhere. And we’re pretty charged up about it.””
NASA is noncommital, but the conjecture in related forums is that it is a layer of magnesite, which forms by carbonization of olivine or magnesium serpentine in the presence of water and carbon dioxide. This would probably satisfy Squires and the entire planetary science ‘community’ by not violating their current ideas about Mars. But what if it is something else?
Petrification of wood occurs when the wood soaks over a period of time in ground water containing various minerals. The atoms in the wood are replaced one-by-one with those of quartz, forming a crystalline (SiO2) material, the atoms of which form a perfect replica of the original structure except that its coloration is dictated by the minerals present. Yellow, the color of the Homestake formation, can be formed by the presence of iron which is omnipresent on the surface of Mars. The crystal quartz is very hard and would explain its structural integrity as compared to the surrounding rock. Opportunity’s microscopic imager took the photomosaic shown in Figure 2. The fine structure resembles that of a root to my untrained eye.
Petrification can occur very rapidly, even in a hundred years, but some on Earth are thought to be quite old. Logs found in Petrified Forest National Park are dated at 160 million years. If this proves to be a petrified root, you can be sure that the scientific community will claim that it is billions of years old. In fact, if it is so proved, the entire incident will probably be covered up because it violates of the currently accepted ‘Standard Model’ and would be an unacceptable embarrassment.
Regardless of the age of such a petrified root, the very existence of trees would prove that Mars was not always out in the freezing, lifeless part of the solar system. Sorry, but the usual excuse, i.e. ‘greenhouse gases’ just doesn’t cut it out there. I have been waiting for one of the rovers to find roots, because the entire southern hemisphere of the planet was covered with vegetation 6,000 years ago. The Egyptians called it ‘the great green (body)’ and it is artistically shown by the deity Anubis (Mars during the cyclic catastrophism), the back of who’s head is painted green. All vegetation was gradually lost between 3700 and 700 BC as its water, atmosphere and innumerable seeds in the manna or Soma were transferred to the Earth by thousands of convulsions within the ‘Red Planet’. These covered the entire surface with rocks and red dust, originally in the form of tiny iron spheres (condrules) shot from every volcano on the planet. Dust storms continue to recover the surface to this day and ultraviolet and particulate radiation has long since destroyed all organic material on the surface due to the lack of any protective atmosphere and magnetic field. It’s a shame that the rovers were not given larger ‘shovels’.
Time is on my side.