Feeds

Opportunity sniffs out meteorite on Mars

Could be many more

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Security for virtualized datacentres

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

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Boffins say they've got Lithium batteries the wrong way around
Surprises at the nano-scale mean our ideas about how they charge could be all wrong
Thought that last dinosaur was BIG? This one's bloody ENORMOUS
Weighed several adult elephants, contend boffins
Europe prepares to INVADE comet: Rosetta landing site chosen
No word yet on whether backup site is labelled 'K'
City hidden beneath England's Stonehenge had HUMAN ABATTOIR. And a pub
Boozed-up ancients drank beer before tearing corpses apart
'Duck face' selfie in SPAAAACE: Rosetta's snap with bird comet
Probe prepares to make first landing on fast-moving rock
Archaeologists and robots on hunt for more Antikythera pieces
How much of the world's oldest computer can they find?
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
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?
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.