Curiosity discovers another shiny object on Mars?

February 07, 2013

Curiosity discovers another shiny object on Mars?

Another shiny object?

NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover has reportedly discovered yet another surprising object of the surface of the alien planet.

Recently, the robotic rover discovered a shiny, metallic object that certainly did not blend in with its red surroundings. According to reports, Curiosity found the shiny item on the surface of a Martian rock.

This shiny, metallic object is not the first unique and unexpected item for NASA’s newest rover to find while patrolling the surface of Mars. Curiosity has already found the Mars ‘flower,’ a piece of plastic that ended up being from the rover itself, and other, similarly shiny, small granules in the soil.

The rover imaged its newest peculiar finding as it laid on a nearby rock. According to experts, the shiny, metallic object has a high albedo, or reflection coefficient. The item also appears to cast a shadow on the rock it is sitting upon.

The image of the shiny particle was taken by the rover itself using the Mastcame, one of its many onboard cameras. Curiosity is said to have taken the picture on Sol 173, which corresponds to January 30, 2013 on planet Earth. The shiny object was first spotted for Universe Today by Elisabetta Bonora, who is an image editing expert from Italy.

Bonora is upset that there are no other images that could help reveal what the shiny piece of material is. “The corresponding image from the left Mastcam is not there, which is a real shame because this would allow us to make an anaglyph,” she told Universe Today via email.

Since finding the metallic object in the image taken by Curiosity, Bonora has observed that the shiny item definitely seems out of place with the red, dusty rock it is sitting on. This observation has lead to a lot of guesses as to how the object got where it is and why it is there. One theory suggests that the metallic protuberance is just more resistant to erosion than the rock it is on. Perhaps, there is even more of the material inside of the rock. Another idea is that the shiny object is something that grows on the rock.

Experts and enthusiasts are currently working on gathering as much information about the shiny object as possible. For instance, many have observed that the material is pretty smooth and is not covered by dust, which is a trait of metals that clean easily. In addition, it has been estimated that the metallic protuberance is 0.5 cm tall at the most.

NASA’s newest Mars rover, Curiosity successfully landed on the Red Planet last summer. Since then, the robotic rover has been working on two year mission to conclusively find if there has ever been or ever could be life on the closest planet to the Earth, Mars.


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