alexa Abstract | Microbialites at Gusev Crater, Mars.
ISSN: 2332-2519

Journal of Astrobiology & Outreach
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The Mars Exploration Rover Spirit investigated plains at Gusev crater, where sedimentary rocks are present. The Spirit rover’s Athena morphological investigation shows microstructures organized in intertwined filaments of microspherules: a texture we have also found on samples of terrestrial stromatolites and other microbialites. We performed a quantitative image analysis to compare 45 microbialites samplings with 50 rover’s ones (approximately 25,000/20,000 microstructures). Contours were extracted and morphometric indexes obtained: geometric and algorithmic complexities, entropy, tortuosity, minimum and maximum diameters. Terrestrial and Martian textures resulted multifractals, while terrestrial abiogenic minerals showed a simple fractal structure. Mean values and confidence intervals from the Martian images overlapped perfectly with those from terrestrial samples. The probability of this occurring by chance was less than 1/28, p<0.004. Our work show the presumptive evidence of microbialites in the Martian outcroppings explored by “Spirit”, confirming our previous results concerning the Martian outcroppings explored by Opportunity at Meridiani Planum: unicellular life was widespread on the ancient Mars.

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Author(s): Giorgio Bianciardi, Vincenzo Rizzo, Maria Eugenia Farias and Nicola Cantasano


Spirit mars exploration rover, Stromatolites, Microbialites, Fractal analysis, Life on Mars, Astrobiology, Extraterrestrial Life, Astronomy, Exobiology

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