Feeds

Opportunity sniffs out meteorite on Mars

Could be many more

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

A new approach to endpoint data protection

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

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

More from The Register

next story
Boffins spot weirder quantum capers as neutrons take the high road, spin takes the low
Cheshire cat effect see neutrons and their properties walk different paths
Just TWO climate committee MPs contradict IPCC: The two with SCIENCE degrees
'Greenhouse effect is real, but as for the rest of it ...'
Brit amateur payload set to complete full circle around PLANET EARTH
Ultralight solar radio tracker in glorious 25,000km almost-space odyssey
NASA Mars rover FINALLY equals 1973 Soviet benchmark
Yet to surpass ancient Greek one, however
Famous 'Dish' radio telescope to be emptied in budget crisis: CSIRO
Radio astronomy suffering to protect Square Kilometre Array
BEST BATTERY EVER: All lithium, all the time, plus a dash of carbon nano-stuff
We have found the Holy Grail (of batteries) - boffins
prev story

Whitepapers

7 Elements of Radically Simple OS Migration
Avoid the typical headaches of OS migration during your next project by learning about 7 elements of radically simple OS migration.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Solving today's distributed Big Data backup challenges
Enable IT efficiency and allow a firm to access and reuse corporate information for competitive advantage, ultimately changing business outcomes.
A new approach to endpoint data protection
What is the best way to ensure comprehensive visibility, management, and control of information on both company-owned and employee-owned devices?