Feeds

Opportunity sniffs out meteorite on Mars

Could be many more

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

NASA scientists yesterday confirmed that the Mars Rover Opportunity has discovered a meteorite on the surface of the red planet. The rover spotted the rock in early January. When its thermal signature suggested it was metallic, researchers realised it could be alien to the planet.

Opportunity checks out the rock with its Right Front Hazard Camera

Subsequent investigations with the Rover's spectrometer confirmed that the rock contained mainly iron and nickel, a composition characteristic of meteorites. Mission scientists told New Scientist that the discovery was a wonderful surprise.

Steve Squyres, the Rovers' lead scientist, based at Cornell University, New York, commented: "I didn't see this one coming."

He explained the further analysis would be difficult because mission designers had not expected to find any meteorites on Mars, so did not send the Rovers equipped to take samples from them.

Testing by the original equipment manufacturer revealed that, sadly, the rover's existing grinding tool was not up to the task of drilling into a meteorite. After an hour of grinding in a test lab, a quarter of the drill head had worn away.

It is possible that both Rovers have unknowingly passed meteorites on their travels across the Martian plains and mountains. The vast majority of meteorites on Earth are just rock. Assuming the same is true on Mars, (and why wouldn't it be?) they would not be visually distinctive from the rest of the rocks scattered on the surface.

Spirit and Opportunity have been on Mars for over a year, well beyond their expected life span. In September, NASA agreed to fund a further six months of study. ®

Related stories

NASA celebrates martian Spirit of adventure
Mars awash with evidence of water
Six more months for Mars rovers

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
Antarctic ice THICKER than first feared – penguin-bot boffins
Robo-sub scans freezing waters, rocks warming models
Your PHONE is slowly KILLING YOU
Doctors find new Digitillnesses - 'text neck' and 'telepressure'
SEX BEAST SEALS may be egging each other on to ATTACK PENGUINS
Boffin: 'I think the behaviour is increasing in frequency'
Reuse the Force, Luke: SpaceX's Elon Musk reveals X-WING designs
And a floating carrier for recyclable rockets
The next big thing in medical science: POO TRANSPLANTS
Your brother's gonna die, kid, unless we can give him your, well ...
NASA launches new climate model at SC14
75 days of supercomputing later ...
Britain's HUMAN DNA-strewing Moon mission rakes in £200k
3 days, and Kickstarter moves lander 37% nearer takeoff
prev story

Whitepapers

Driving business with continuous operational intelligence
Introducing an innovative approach offered by ExtraHop for producing continuous operational intelligence.
10 threats to successful enterprise endpoint backup
10 threats to a successful backup including issues with BYOD, slow backups and ineffective security.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.