After greater than a decade on Mars, NASA‘s Curiosity rover is sort of used to traversing the Pink Planet in solitude.
However final week, on its 3,724th Martian day rumbling over Mount Sharp, it encountered one other international customer, one thing that additionally traveled a unprecedented distance by way of space earlier than winding up within the dusty barren desert: a one-foot-wide meteorite.
NASA is asking the house rock Cacao(Opens in a new tab), one in every of a handful of meteorites the plucky robotic has found because it arrived on Mars in 2012. Utilizing its Mast Digital camera, Curiosity snapped a photograph exhibiting its new discover on Jan. 27, with its personal Johnny-5-like shadow making a body. The selfie [see below] has ragged edges as a result of it’s really composed of six photos stitched collectively.
“There’s no method to date these,” NASA mentioned by way of its anthropomorphized Curiosity account(Opens in a new tab) on Twitter. “But it surely may have been right here thousands and thousands of years!”
Curiosity’s shadow casts a body across the newly found meteorite on Mars.
Credit score: NASA / JPL-Caltech / MSSS
On Earth, scientists estimate about 48.5 tons of billions-of-years-old meteor material(Opens in a new tab) rain down from house day by day, a lot of which vaporizes within the environment or falls into the ocean, which covers over 70 % of the planet. Greater than 60,000 meteorites have been found on our planet. The overwhelming majority comes from asteroids, however valuable few originated on Mars or the moon, in response to NASA. At the very least 175 identified here(Opens in a new tab) hail from the Pink Planet.
“It may have been right here thousands and thousands of years!”
Curiosity, a car-size rover(Opens in a new tab), and its predecessors have discovered meteorites earlier than, and The Meteoritical Society is beginning to maintain a database of their finds(Opens in a new tab). The worldwide group has given formal identify recognition to fifteen such specimens since 2005.
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It is not clear which planet, moon, or asteroid Cacao expatriated, however mission scientists say it is an iron-nickel meteorite. This class of house rock is not uncommon amongst these discovered on Earth, however it’s much less frequent than stony meteorites. Different meteorites that rovers have found on their expeditions have had related iron compositions.
Scientists speculate iron meteorites could also be proof against erosion on the Pink Planet. That might clarify why this large house rock seems to be sitting on flat floor somewhat than in a gap.
“There seemingly was a BIG crater within the historic previous,” Curiosity tweeted(Opens in a new tab). “Over time, erosion and different forces flatten the world round it, carving away all the things however the hardest materials.”
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