This magnified look at the martian soil near the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity's landing site, Meridiani Planum, shows coarse grains sprinkled over a fine layer of sand. The image was captured by the rover's microscopic imager on the 10th day, or sol, of its mission and roughly approximates the color a human eye would see. Scientists are intrigued by the spherical rocks, which can be formed by a variety of geologic processes, including cooling of molten lava droplets and accretion of concentric layers of material around a particle or "seed".
The examined patch of soil is 3 centimeters (1.2 inches) across. The circular grain in the lower left corner is approximately 3 millimeters (.12 inches) across, or about the size of a sunflower seed.
This color composite was obtained by merging images acquired with the orange-tinted dust cover in both its open and closed positions. The blue tint at the lower right corner is a tag used by scientists to indicate that the dust cover is closed.