Meridiani Planum is a plain located 2 degrees south of Mars' equator. It hosts a rare occurrence of gray crystalline hematite. On Earth, hematite is often formed in hot springs or in standing pools of water; therefore, many scientists believe that the hematite at Meridiani Planum may be indicative of ancient hot springs or that the environment contained liquid water. The hematite is part of a layered sedimentary rock formation about 656 to 2624 feet (200 to 800 meters) thick. Other features of Meridiani Planum include volcanic basalt and impact craters.
In 2004, Meridiani Planum was the landing site for the second of NASA's two Mars Exploration Rovers, named Opportunity. Results from Opportunity indicate that Meridiani Planum was once saturated for a long period of time with liquid water, possibly of high salinity and acidity. Features that suggest this include the presence of many small spherical pebbles that appear to be concretions, vugs inside rocks, and the presence of large amounts of magnesium sulfate and other sulfate-rich minerals such as jarosite.
Meridiani Planum viewed on Google Mars
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