In its exploration of Mars’ arid surface, NASA’s Curiosity rover has made yet another intriguing finding.
This time, an ultra-high resolution picture patched together from 19 separate photographs obtained by the rover on January 28 reveals what looks to be an iron-nickel meteorite known as Cacao. Cacao is about a foot wide.
A sulfate-bearing section of Mount Sharp on the Red Planet, the strange object’s stunning silver metallic tint sticks out like a sore thumb amid the surrounding, rust-colored environment.
According to the rover’s official Twitter feed, the meteorite is “Rock. Rock. Rock. Rock. Rock. METEORITE!” “It’s not uncommon to find meteorites on Mars — in fact, I’ve done it a few times! But a change in scenery’s always nice.”
Curiosity, which has been exploring the surface of Mars for more than ten years, isn’t prepared to collect a sample from Cacao and bring it back to Earth. Its companion Perseverance, the only other functioning rover now roving the surface of Mars, has been diligently collecting samples of Martian rock and soil, and that is one of its key goals.
Rock. Rock. Rock. Rock. Rock. Rock. METEORITE!
It’s not uncommon to find meteorites on Mars – in fact, I’ve done it a few times! (see ?) But a change in scenery’s always nice.
This one’s about a foot wide and made of iron-nickel. We’re calling it “Cacao.” pic.twitter.com/I37HiGjN2t
— Curiosity Rover (@MarsCuriosity) February 2, 2023
The meteorite might potentially help researchers learn more about the history of the Red Planet and whether or not it has ever supported life. Despite the planet’s scant atmosphere, the scars and indentations on Cacao’s surface were probably created when it passed through the atmosphere, according to Universe Today.
Iron nickel meteorites are among the rarest types of meteorites and have a decent possibility of making it through the atmospheres of either Mars or Earth.
However, the amount of information the scientists can get about Curiosity’s most recent discovery is limited.
“There’s no way to date these,” the team admitted in a Twitter reply. “But it could have been here millions of years!”