NASA's Curiosity Rover Found a Strange Object on Mars

Monday, 20 August 2018 - 1:29PM
Mars
Monday, 20 August 2018 - 1:29PM
NASA's Curiosity Rover Found a Strange Object on Mars
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Image Credit: Pixabay + NASA JPL-Caltech MSSS Composite
People have spotted all kinds of strange things on Mars, from supposed cannonballs to "walled cities," but most are usually identified by a conspiracy theorist desperately looking for something vaguely shaped like a Martian civilization. This newest Martian discovery, however, was spotted by NASA's Curiosity roverNASA initially identified it as a foreign object, like a piece of spacecraft debris, but now we know that the mysterious shard is (surprise!) just a rock flake.

Yes. A rock flake.

Initially dubbed the "Pettegrove Point Foreign Object Debris" by the Curiosity team, analysis by the rover's ChemCam RMI instrument revealed that it was native to the Red Planet. According to the official press release by NASA: "Perhaps the target should have been given a different name befitting the theme of the current quadrangle in which Curiosity resides: 'Rabhadh Ceàrr', or 'False Alarm' in Scottish Gaelic."

The find occurred after Curiosity finally got its drill back online following an extended hiatus, and now that the strange object has been identified and laid to rest, Curiosity will return to work investigating Gale Crater, including the dust content in the air and more drillings. Recently, Curiosity found evidence that Gale Crater was host to an ancient lake that had all the necessary components for life, lending credence to the theory that Mars once supported (or still supports) a microscopic form of alien life.

In other Martian rover news, the dust storm that swept across Mars and blacked out the Opportunity rover's solar panels may be lifting soon. When the dust finally settles, NASA will finally be able to determine whether Opportunity is still operational, or if it will stay in sleep mode forever (and eventually run out of power). NASA has even released a playlist they've composed to encourage Opportunity to wake up, which is one of the most heartbreaking things we've heard in a long time.

Science
NASA
Mars