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Space & Astronomy

Curiosity discovers metallic meteorite on Mars

By T.K. Randall
January 18, 2017 · Comment icon 10 comments

The meteorite is still being analyzed. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
The rover has come across what scientists believe to be an iron-nickel meteorite on the Martian surface.
The object is the third meteorite found by Curiosity so far and one of at least eight found in total by NASA's Mars rovers over the years. The image was taken six days ago on January 12th.

While scientists have yet to confirm that the object is made of iron, if it is then it is likely to have formed in the core of an asteroid. Interestingly, all of the meteorites found to date on Mars have been made of iron - a stark contrast to on the Earth where most meteorites are made of rock.
It isn't yet clear exactly why this should be the case however it has been speculated that it may be because metallic asteroids are simply easier to pick out against the rocky surface of Mars.

The three tiny dots on the meteorite in the photograph are thought to be from Curiosity's ChemCam laser which uses spectrometry to analyze the composition of rocks.

The results should indicate once and for all what this particular meteorite is actually made of.

Source: New Scientist | Comments (10)

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by simplybill 6 years ago
Interesting that it's now on the surface, after†being buried deep in the ground on†impact. I wonder how many years it took for wind erosion to uncover it. † †
Comment icon #2 Posted by brlesq1 6 years ago
Comment icon #3 Posted by Twin 6 years ago
This will surely result in the manned exploration of Mars. Meteorite hunter will go anywhere to search a debris field.
Comment icon #4 Posted by pallidin 6 years ago
Looked at the slightly clearer photo on the link site. Wow, the pic is awesome.
Comment icon #5 Posted by pallidin 6 years ago
Don't know if this is any sharper.
Comment icon #6 Posted by pallidin 6 years ago
I know, I know...†"There's a fossilized alligator, upper-left"
Comment icon #7 Posted by taniwha 6 years ago
Am I the only one who sees all that sand?
Comment icon #8 Posted by XenoFish 6 years ago
Looks like a chunk of melted aluminum to me. I wonder why that sandy clay looks so mineral rich? Perhaps left over from volcanic activity in the past?
Comment icon #9 Posted by Auldaney 6 years ago
This is interesting because I have noted the fact in my book and video that there are meteor craters all over the moon, and like Meteor Crater in Arizona, there should be meteorites all over the place. But none have been found. Now we know there are meteorites on Mars, then there must be some on the moon. Maybe we need a robot rover on the moon. At least it solves the mystery. Apparently we have not studied the moon well enough. The advantage of meteorites on the moon†is they have not been weathered like those on the earth.†
Comment icon #10 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 6 years ago
It seems to me that there are two factors you are not taking into account. The first factor is the different surface colours of Mars and the moon. A meteorite on the surface of Mars stands out like a sore thumb against the red of Mars. Against the dark grey of the moon a meteorite will not be so obvious. Because meteorites can be spotted reasonably easily NASA can send the Curiosity rover to inspect them. If Curiosity was on the moon it would probably miss a meteorite of the same size in less it fortuitously passed close to it. The second factor that needs to be considered is the role of the a... [More]

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