NASA's Curiosity Rover Spots The Largest Meteorite Ever Discovered On Mars
NASA's Mars Curiosity Rover has just discovered its first ever meteorite on the Red Planet's surface, and it may be a record breaker. Made of iron and measuring around 2 meters wide, the meteorite, named Lebanon, is thought to be the largest ever discovered on Mars and may represent the remnants of a young planet that was destroyed aeons ago.
Other than its size, what is so interesting about Lebanon are the deep cavities seen dotting its surface. The NASA statement that accompanies the image above puts forward two theories on the origin of Lebanon's pockmarked surface.
"One possible explanation is that they resulted from preferential erosion along crystalline boundaries within the metal of the rock. Another possibility is that these cavities once contained olivine crystals, which can be found in a rare type of stony-iron meteorites called pallasites, thought to have been formed near the core-mantle boundary within an asteroid."
[The original image of Lebanon taken from Curiosity's MastCam]
Lebanon may be the first meteorite discovered by Curiosity, but such objects have been uncovered by the earlier rover missions Spirit and Opportunity. Estimates suggest that there could even be as many as 500,000 meteorites per square kilometer on the surface of Mars.
Interesting objects such as Lebanon are part of the reason for the slower than expected pace on the rover's journey to Mount Sharp. Discoveries made with the Curiosity have, more than any other before it, helped to reinforce the notion that the surface of Mars is nothing short of a geologists wildest dream. It's almost makes it seem worth travelling all those miles with broken wheels...