NASA’s Curiosity Rover Spots New Meteorite On Mars Surface

Posted: Jan 18 2017, 1:09pm CST | by , Updated: Jan 18 2017, 1:16pm CST, in News | Latest Science News

 
NASA’s Curiosity Rover Spots New Meteorite on Mars Surface
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

The peculiar rock is the rover's third meteorite find on Red Planet

NASA’s Curiosity rover has found yet another meteorite on Martian surface. The newfound meteorite has a grey metallic sheen and it is most likely composed of iron and nickel.

The turkey-shaped object is the second iron meteorite in just three months. In November, Curiosity spotted an ovoid-shaped meteorite while rolling along the lower layer of Mount Sharp on Mars surface. This makes it one of the many found on Mars since the arrival of rovers on planet.

The most striking thing about the new meteorite rock is its small spots or dimples that hints of regmaglypts. Regmaglypts are thumbprint like impressions commonly seen in those meteorites that lose outer materials of the surface while falling in an atmosphere.

The image taken by Curiosity also shows three small, shiny spots close to the middle of the rock. These are probably pits from Curiosity's ChemCam laser. As the instrument fires a laser, it creates small spots on meteorite surface and obtains samples. In this way, the rover not only provides close-up images of the objects, but also offers a chance for determining their chemical composition. The chemical analysis revealed that the rock is mostly made of iron similar to the other few found on Mars.

Since landing on Mars in 2012, Curiosity rover has stumbled across three meteorite rocks. Its first meteorite was 7 feet wide ‘Lebanon’ which was discovered in 2014. The meteorite is the largest ever found on Martian surface.

Iron meteorites are also found on Earth, but they are less common than stony meteorites.

“About 95 percent of all found or seen-to-fall meteorites are the stony variety (mostly chondrites), 4.4 percent are irons and 1 percent stony-irons.” NASA says.

Finding meteorite rocks on Mars is interesting because these rocks can provide clues on the asteroids lying in our solar system. Sometimes these fragments end up both Mars and Earth but mostly they collapse while entering the Earth’s atmosphere, making Mars the only to study them.

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