NASA’s mission on Mars, Curiosity has been analyzing an Egg Rock, or more exactly a curious looking iron-nickel rock meteorite that is believed to have fallen from the Martian sky.
The NASA mission specialists received a strange picture of an odd-looking rock taken by the Curiosity rover’s Mastcam during its October 27 explorations of the area.
The Mastcam or Mast Camera captured the image of a spherical like rock that featured a smooth, dark and lustrous surface aspect.
As the strange object attracted the attention of the researchers, the Curiosity’s ChemCam instrument was used in order to determine the composition and origin of the Egg Rock.
The ChemCam or the Chemistry and Camera instrument used a laser zapping technique in order to gather data on the object which were later analyzed by the ChemCam mission members such as Pierre-Yves Meslin.
Meslin revealed that the Egg Rock seems to exhibit traces of nickel, iron, phosphorous and other lesser ingredients. Although the exact concentration of these elements is yet to be established, the increased values of phosphorus and nickel seem to point towards its being an iron-nickel meteorite.
This particular rock presented traces of an iron-nickel-phosphide mineral which is characteristic of the aforementioned meteorite and which is quite common on Earth and has been also seen on Mars.
Most iron meteorites have been found to form after the outside strata of an asteroid has melted. The space objects’ molten metal components would then sink inside the followed out rock and form a new core.
As previous research and studies seemed to show that the iron rocks found on Mars and Earth may differ, scientists also plan to analyze the known data and compare information.
This will help them discover if the two space bodies were hit by different asteroids. It will also contribute towards a better understanding of the differences between the environments of the two planets as they will be able to study the effects of the Martian versus the Earth climate and atmosphere.
This particular iron rock, the Egg rock, will continue to be studied with the use of the ChemCam as the instrument will shoot lasers in different locations on the rock’s surface.
The new information, coupled with the existing images, should help determine the surface and interior chemistry and its possible differences.
The images of Egg Rock were captured as the Curiosity rover was exploring the Murray formation on a lower layer of Mount Sharp. The discovery of the iron rock came in at the right time as the Curiosity’s second extended mission seeks to determine the changes of the Martian environment over the passing of time.
As Egg Rock is thought to have fallen Mars many millions of years ago, it will offer a prime study subject as it is also the first such object to be analyzed by a laser-firing spectrometer.
Image Source: Wikimedia