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Goofy Mars Rock spotted by NASA rover could be a meteorite

Goofy Mars Rock spotted by NASA rover could be a meteorite

Goofy Mars Rock spotted by NASA rover could be a meteorite

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This story is part Welcome to Marsour series exploring the red planet.

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It’s always a pleasure when a NASA rover finds something that doesn’t fit on the Martian surface. Occasionally, it’s landing debris. Sometimes it’s a rock from elsewhere. Occasionally it’s a meteorite from space. The Curiosity rover team wonders about a small, funky gray rock that stands out from its surroundings. It may be a meteorite.

“This is an unusual gray floating rock that may be a remnant of material higher up on Mount Sharp or may be a meteorite. We’ve analyzed a few meteorites over the past 10 years, but they’re not that abundant. that we fail to get excited at the thought of a new one,” planetary geologist Catherine O’Connell-Cooper wrote in a rover update this week.

This Curiosity photo from October 2022 shows the thin dark layer of the Marker Band running from left to right (although it is thinner on the left).

NASA/JPL-Caltech

A “floating” rock is a rock that comes from elsewhere. The rock in the Curiosity image resembles ancient meteorites found on Mars that look dark and shiny.

Mars has a long history of being bombarded by rocks from space. NASA’s expensive InSight lander even captured the meteor impact sounds during his mission.

Curiosity explores Gale Crater, climbing the slopes of the crater’s massive central mountain, Mount Sharp. One area of ​​interest here is a geologic formation called the Marker Band, which O’Connell-Copper previously described as “a thin dark band whose origin is unclear.” The mysterious rock is located under the marker strip.

Meteorites on Mars are worth studying. In 2016, NASA investigated a meteorite named “Egg Rock” found by Curiosity. Egg Rock was an iron meteorite that may have originally been part of an asteroid’s core. Scientists are interested in how exposure to the Martian environment affects iron meteorites and how that compares to what meteorites experience on Earth.

Curiosity has been on Mars for more than 10 years, but its visits never get old. The mysterious rock is just the latest bit of visual intrigue from a fascinating planet.

Tech

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