NASA’s Curiosity Rover Finds Weird Metallic Meteorite On Mars Surface

Posted: Nov 3 2016, 6:36am CDT | by , Updated: Nov 3 2016, 6:38am CDT, in News | Latest Science News

 

NASA’s Curiosity Rover Finds Weird Metallic Meteorite on Mars Surface
Credit: NASA/JPL
 

The meteorite has been named "Egg Rock" because of its odd, ovoid shape

NASA’s Curiosity rover just keeps rolling along ever since it landed on Mars' surface. Throughout its journey, the robotic rover has introduced us with numerous intriguing Martian objects from active sand dunes to fascinating Mount Sharp to mesa located in Murray Buttes. And most recently, it has found what appears to be a ball of melted metal, also known as meteorite. 

Dubbed “Egg Rock,” because of its odd, ovoid shape, the meteorite was first spotted in an image taken by Curiosity's Mast Camera (Mastcam) when Curiosity rover reached the site on October 27, 2016. Then, scientists from Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) used an instrument called ChemCam to take the close-up images of the mysterious metallic ball and also to understand its chemical composition. The chemical analysis revealed that the meteorite is made of iron and nickel, which explains its metallic appearance

“The dark, smooth and lustrous aspect of this target, and its sort of spherical shape attracted the attention of some MSL scientists when we received the Mastcam images at the new location.” ChemCam team member Pierre-Yves Meslin said.

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Egg Rock likely came from the core of a structure in Asteroid Belt, which became molten as it entered the Mars’ atmosphere and turned into a hard, smooth meteorite when it touched down the surface.

The newly-discovered meteorite is not the only one found on Martian surface. Mars is a place which is too often hit by the rocks kicked out of asteroid belt by Jupiter’s gravity. Egg Rock, however, is definitely unique as it appears more melted than meteorites spotted in the past.

Iron-nickel meteorites are commonly found on our planet as well but there are many more that could not make their way on to the Earth and landed somewhere else in the solar system.

“Iron meteorites provide records of many different asteroids that broke up, with fragments of their cores ending up on Earth and on Mars,” said ChemCam team member Horton Newsom. “Mars may have sampled a different population of asteroids than Earth has.”

Egg Rock was found along the rover’s path up Murray Formation in lower Mount Sharp. Since meteorites are like time capsules, the newfound can provide clues on the beginning of solar system as well as the changes Mars has gone through over the years.

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