Feeds

Opportunity sniffs out meteorite on Mars

Could be many more

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Build a business case: developing custom apps

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

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Gigantic toothless 'DRAGONS' dominated Earth's early skies
Gummy pterosaurs outlived toothy competitors
Boffins ID freakish spine-smothered prehistoric critter: The CLAW gave it away
Bizarre-looking creature actually related to velvet worms
CRR-CRRRK, beep, beep: Mars space truck backs out of slippery sand trap
Curiosity finds new drilling target after course correction
'Leccy racer whacks petrols in Oz race
ELMOFO rakes in two wins in sanctioned race
Astronomers scramble for obs on new comet
Amateur gets fifth confirmed discovery
Boffins build CYBORG-MOTHRA but not for evil: For search & rescue
This tiny bio-bot will chew through your clothes then save your life
Vulture 2 takes a battering in 100km/h test run
Still in one piece, but we're going to need MORE POWER
What does a flashmob of 1,024 robots look like? Just like this
Sorry, Harvard, did you say kilobots or KILLER BOTS?
NASA's rock'n'roll shock: ROLLING STONE FOUND ON MARS
No sign of Ziggy Stardust and his band
prev story

Whitepapers

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.
Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.