MECA-OM Images - Page 3

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LWS Author Profile Page

Posts: 3062

Reply: 41

PostPosted: July 5, 2008 6:40 PM 

Hi HOrt

I tend to agree with you re. your #40 but usually with those press conferences announcing major developments, like finding grey hematite or water of crystallization in salts at meridiani, there are reports of undercurrents of great excitement at NASA.

There is nothing so this time around. The oblique identification of water was accorded a relatively low key announcement, given that discovering water ice near the surface appears to have been one of the main objectives of the whole exercise. Why this lack of excitement if they have mars shattering news under wraps to report that would require the presence of the big gun Griffin?

Anyhow I agree with you that we are unlikely to see the science data and raw OM and AFM images before they are thoroughly worked over by the Officials. But this might be just SCience as usual.


hortonheardawho Author Profile Page

Posts: 3465

Reply: 42

PostPosted: July 5, 2008 9:53 PM 

sol 21 OM view of the soil om a magnetic substrait:

Since this was derived from a high compression JPG ( 13.7) with a high contrast( 75% of possible 0-255 brightness range with mean brightness 83 and std 21 ), I appied a non-linear brightness transform to make it easier on the eye -- but you can't believe any of the fine details as "real" -- whatever that means.

Where are the raw OMs?

rpage Author Profile Page

Posts: 655

Reply: 43

PostPosted: July 5, 2008 10:18 PM 

Interesting Horton (Reply 42),
If the strongest magnetic pull is towards the center of the disk that might explain the larger chunks of dark material there. These chunks at the center and lower right of Horton's image might be hematite, magnetite and/or other ferro-magnesium minerals and silicates. i wonder where the strongest magnetism is on the magnetic substrate...

The feature that has me perplexed is the linear feature/object in the lower right quadrant of the image. What the heck is that thing and why does it appear to be magnetic? Is it an eroded vein of some magneti mineral or something more unusual? Why is one end of it blurry...because it's closer to the camera and longer than it would appear?

hortonheardawho Author Profile Page

Posts: 3465

Reply: 44

PostPosted: July 5, 2008 10:36 PM 

Thanks for the comments Bob.

Yeah, about that linear feature...

I hate being the only one to "notice" things in these images.

Aren't magnetic materials metals - and hence "dark" ( like most of the stuff in the center ).

But that straight as an arrow thingie is a quite thin "white" needle surrounded with "fluffy" red dust.

I thought it was quite funny when NASA used the adjective "fluffy" to describe the soil clumps on the edge of the scoop.

Fluffy was the name of Hagrid's guard dog of the underground chamber that hid the Philosopher's Stone.

On Mars, maybe the fluffy stones hide the underground chambers of the Mars bugs.

hortonheardawho Author Profile Page

Posts: 3465

Reply: 45

PostPosted: July 5, 2008 10:57 PM 

in reply 44 I meant to say most magnetic minerals are dark in color... except siderite?

OK, maybe the little rod is a chrystal of siderite Iron Carbonate ( FeCO3 )?

rpage Author Profile Page

Posts: 655

Reply: 46

PostPosted: July 5, 2008 11:24 PM 

You are correct. Most magnetic minerals are dark or metalic in color. There are many iron, nickel, and magnesium minerals that are magnetic and form needle-like crystals. I'd have to check my mineral books to give you further details.

It would help to know just HOW magnetic the substrate is....highly magnetic or does it have a lesse magnetic attraction? If we knew the strength of the magnet we would be able to narrow down the potential minerals that are stuck to it.

My experience with FECO3 is limited to sedimentary iron carbonates which are slightly magnetic and deposited in conjunction with biological activity.
Other sedimentary deposited hematite on Earth is much more magnetic.

Biologic and non-biologically (metamorphic/igneous) deposited magnetite is much more magnetic than hematite, siderite, and altered iron pyrites (and other upper crust minerals).

Iron containing meteorites can also have highly magnetic crystals. Pieces of the octahedrite meteorite crystals could weather to form a needle shaped magnetic crystal like this.

Eroded Meteorite shard? magnetic mineral needle crystal? Fracture fill magnetic material? Biological formed magnetic fossil?mineral? Or something else...
The light color could represent oxidation/corrosion on a darker or metallic substrate.

What is the scale here...anyone?

LWS Author Profile Page

Posts: 3062

Reply: 47

PostPosted: July 5, 2008 11:26 PM 

Could it be something from the rover? The whitish segments look almost like a wire brush winding but then it would have to be microscopic in size c. 0.4 mm, so it could'nt be something like that. Could it be a well twisted very fine wire? That would explain its magnetic properties and the fuzzy extremities could be just very fine magnetic minerals holding on for dear life.


hortonheardawho Author Profile Page

Posts: 3465

Reply: 48

PostPosted: July 5, 2008 11:37 PM 

The width of the OM image is about 1 mm. See this sol 17 OM composite of 3 frames for a scale.

Yes, I picked up on that siderite / biology connection -- which is why I suggested it as a possibility.

I would appreciate a reference to the OM specs too -- including the details of the substrates in the sample wheel. I am usually pretty good at locating this kind of stuff -- but the pdf google references for the OM were er, unresponsive. I think that was my first clue about how the OM was going to be treated in this mission.

rpage Author Profile Page

Posts: 655

Reply: 49

PostPosted: July 5, 2008 11:52 PM 

Here is a link about magnetic Earth minerals:

Shards and slices of magnetite are the most magnetic of earth rocks and were used in primitive compasses.

hortonheardawho Author Profile Page

Posts: 3465

Reply: 50

PostPosted: July 6, 2008 12:04 AM 

And here is a paper describing the importance of siderite found in ALH84001 as a bioligical marker.

hortonheardawho Author Profile Page

Posts: 3465

Reply: 51

PostPosted: July 6, 2008 5:21 PM 

Oppy sol 1435 Martian SOD animation:

Any one who has followed my posts since day one knows that I have obsessed over the organization of the soil -- and, in particular, what I have called the property of Self Organizing Dust.

The MI animation above illustrates the coherent movement of units of SOD in, perhaps, the presence of frost. Note that some units move this way -- some move that way -- so I don't think its "just" the wind moving individual grains.

The key observation ( in my mind ) is that the movement of each little clump of soil is cohenrent and independent.

One of my greatest disappointments in the Oppy and Spirit missions was the observation that over long periods of time ( weeks ) there is virtually NO changes in SOD. BUT over very brief periods the SOD, er, organizes in response to an energetic external event -- like RATing -- or even close examination by the MI.

It looks like the polar SOD behaves the same way.

I was profoundly disappointed that the SOD on the lander pad is virtually unchanged since hours after the energetic event ( landing ) that stirred it up.

So it looks like the scenario is SOD ( it it even exists ) organizes very slowly ( by Earth timelines )-- but energetic events breaks up the SOD and scatters independent components -- which very quickly find one another, organize -- and then again return to a very slow change process.

So it looks more and more like the internal property of SOD that causes "self organization" is more a simple intra-molecular force ( perhaps magnetic ) amoung otherwise uninteresting ( to me ) dust grains.

The larger, long range pattern of SOD seems to be circular patches -- which very few , except some proponents of life, seem capable of seeing.

The number of such SOD circles seems quite high at the Phoenix site, so I would guess that their number is a direct measure of the water content in the soil.

Water is a dipolar molecule. Couple that with ths SODs (magnetic?) binding force and perhaps some pretty patterns will result in "watery" soil.

Unless some interesting chemistry turns up I'm guessing the whos will not shout loud enough to be heard by Phoenix.

Ah well.

I think I'll rest for a while.

rpage Author Profile Page

Posts: 655

Reply: 52

PostPosted: July 6, 2008 9:57 PM 

Hey Horton,
regarding reply 51.
I've been thinking along similar lines. I've been trying to think of a good way to describe my opinion of at least some of the SOD events. I think it's a static charge of some kind that is moving these grains.

Did you ever have those big bean bag chairs back in the 70's? They were stuffed with small styrofoam spherules (say that 10 times fast!). Anyway these styrofoam balls must have been between 0.5 centimeters and 2 or 3 millimeters in diameter. If you ever had one of these beanbag chairs leak you would find the little balls everywhere around the chair. Many times when you would try to pick them up some of them would move away from your hand because of differential static charges. Any object placed near them might cause them to shift in position.

Perhaps the cameras, RATs, and other tools are making these move because of the close proximity of the equipment and static charge differential.

I'm pretty sure if you used Martian probes to get a microscopic image of beanbag balls resting on a beanbag chair in a cool dry house you would see SOSBs (Self Organizing Styrofoam Balls)

LWS Author Profile Page

Posts: 3062

Reply: 53

PostPosted: July 6, 2008 10:25 PM 

Hi Hort

Very nice pic at 51. But I don't fully agree with your analysis and only partly with your final conclusion.

Accepting that the sods appear to react quickly to external energetic forces and then settle down to a steady state conformation ultimately leading to the circular like patterns and chains we see at Meridiani and moreso at the Phoenix site. I think that there is no need to invoke only an intra-molecular force mediated or catalysed by the amount of water present for the "strange" behaviour of the sods. Yes, I think those abovementioned forces are significant but I don't think that "whos" are definitely excluded from this phenomenon, at least not yet.

Why could'nt there be some microbes assisting in binding the soil grains together? OK, OK, I know you'll tell me solar UV radiation at the surface, superoxides, etc., but I think that throughout the various arguments on life at the surface of Mars on this blog, there have been many arguments raised that there has been no definitive proof given that these agents will actually eliminate life that can adapt to extreme environments and that mechanisms exist for adapting to such conditions.

Indeed, some of the extreme movements seen in your meridiani animation above seem to be far too energetic to be caused by only the forces you mentioned.

There has to be something other than those forces to explain the cohesivity and yes, stickyness, of the soil phoenix has encountered. Microbial products could fill that role.

However, given that the TEGA instrument tests on the first (and may I say, flawed) sample have not yet been reported, but that UMSF experts say they have not returned any organics, your expectations for the "whos" remaining dumb seems reasonable.

I myself am not as confident as I was previously but anxiously await official results from TEGA and the other instruments.

The problem of course is that this mission is not geared to actually search for life although it could give several important pointers or clues as to if it existed or still exists. The megnet image that you highlighted earlier is a good example of the kind of problem that is faced. That partially fluffy wire shaped obect, is likely in my opinion to have somehow dropped from a part of the lander, but there is a possibility that it might be a martian product of biology.

We may never be able to resolve the problems. If the second TEGA sample does not work, through improper sampling (eg. no ice is again found by TEGA) do we conclude that there is really no ice there? Could it be that there are organic products there but TEGA did not sample them in the first experiment and may not be able to sample them in the second?

NOthing has been said so far of the AFM. Is it operational? Are we sure that the sampling process for preparing the AFM slides will give samples that can provide reasonable results when done?

Why cant the RA Camera take a close up of some of those intruiging circles in the soil? Why can't it peer into some of those holes in the soil just above the ice layer?

Forgive the incoherent post once more. I'm travelling on an assignment and I'm rushing to go and prepare some presentations for tomorrow.

May not be able to post much over the next week or so.


hortonheardawho Author Profile Page

Posts: 3465

Reply: 54

PostPosted: July 18, 2008 11:37 AM 

Sol 52 OM panorama ( preliminary ):

Looks like those internet tubes are finally unclogged and the raw OMs are flowing again.

I am guessing that all the "before" exposures may have been done on Earth after the instruments were assembled, so I am guessing that this is an actual Mars sample picture.

See Flickr comments for details.

hortonheardawho Author Profile Page

Posts: 3465

Reply: 55

PostPosted: July 18, 2008 2:11 PM 

sol 52 preliminary full OM pan:

I allowed more color saturation in this version than in reply 54. It will take me a while to converge to an image that I like.

There are a couple of interesting spots that were quite green in the raw RGB pan that turned "brown" in this version. Still, brown's good.

I haven't had time to really look close, so have fun.

LWS Author Profile Page

Posts: 3062

Reply: 56

PostPosted: July 18, 2008 3:28 PM 

Hi Hort

I did some colourations of the sol 52 OMs and got some colours looking essentially like yours, without having seen yours.

I've circled what I think might be spots of interest for an AFM examination. However, there are probably many other spots that are obscured by the background noise in the images.

I suspect we will have to await the officially processed images.

Anyhow, fwiw, here are my preliminary processed images


hortonheardawho Author Profile Page

Posts: 3465

Reply: 57

PostPosted: July 18, 2008 6:23 PM 

sol 52 OM pan crop -- the Maxed out version:

OK, I think the best color for the substrate is blue. Who knows -- it might actually be blue.

This version was color balanced for maximum color separation and then the brightness in HSB versions were replaced by the maximum brightness from each exposure.

My intent is to highlight as much as possible the fine network of fibers in the image -- come of which appeared coiled in my fevered brain.

If you don't see the fibers of the coils, that's OK. Really, it's OK.


Posts: 638

Reply: 58

PostPosted: July 18, 2008 6:58 PM 


If you could not produce images you would be just another elephant on the plains.

Fred, aka Henry

LWS Author Profile Page

Posts: 3062

Reply: 59

PostPosted: July 18, 2008 8:04 PM 


I see the coils in the sol 52 images but I think I also see them in the Sol 51 ones.

THe official images from earllier in the mission deemphasized the background "noise". I wonder if we may not have to wait for these or work out how to produce images like those to be certain that we are actually seeing Mar's former or current union members.

I suspect that they are using a system which subtracts the controls from the samples.


hortonheardawho Author Profile Page

Posts: 3465

Reply: 60

PostPosted: July 18, 2008 11:41 PM 

Er, winston, I don't think they are the same "coils". I have tried to animate some of the weirdness I see in this animation.

These are very labor intensive but it is a cool way to highlight "stuff" in an image.

best would be multiple frames with each frame highlighting a particular class of feature.

It was created in imagej by increasing the brightness of selected features by 20%.

Operationally I had a raw image in one slice and a feature image in another slice. I used the selection tools to select a feature area and then applied a 1.2 multiplty in the feature slice.

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