Feeds

Curiosity photographs mysterious metal object on Martian rock

Shiny 'flower' sets Mars-watchers aflutter

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Image analysis of shots taken by the Curiosity rover's MastCam last month appears to have revealed a shiny metal object sticking out of a rock on the Martian surface.

Italian imaging specialist Elisabetta Bonora was going over Curiosity's latest photographs and found the object in a set of pictures taken by the rover on January 30. The object appears to be embedded in bedrock and is both casting a shadow and reflecting sunlight in some areas, but Bonora said that gauging the size of the object is proving tricky.

"We do not know the distance of the target from the rover and it is therefore difficult to estimate its size," she wrote on her website. Undeterred, she believes that the Martian curio is eight to nine metres from the rover and, using the resolution of the onboard camera, that the object is between two and three centimetres in size.

Bonora dubbed the object the true "Flower of Mars," a reference to an earlier object spotted by the rover which turned out to be a piece of plastic that dropped from the vehicle onto the Martian sand. But the new object can't have come from the rover directly, since it's so far off its track.

Mars metal object

Either something very interesting or very dull

It's possible the structure is some form of mineral that hasn’t eroded as fast as the surrounding rock, or that it's a metal fragment from a meteorite that hasn't rusted in the oxygen-poor Martian atmosphere, such as it is. Bonora said it might be ice, but the reflective qualities suggest a metallic composition.

Sadly, no one from NASA was around to give an opinion on Friday, and the agency is being much more circumspect about Martian speculation after it was forced to issue a denial that organics had been found on the Red Planet after a comment was misinterpreted.

That hasn't stopped wild speculation on the internet, with ideas ranging from exotic fauna, a part from an earlier mission from Earth, or the object being a relic of what author H.G. Wells suggested were "minds immeasurably superior to ours."

Here at El Reg, we counsel caution. After all, it's not the first time hopes of alien artifacts have been dashed and we suspect it won’t be the last. ®

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Vulture 2 takes a battering in 100km/h test run
Still in one piece, but we're going to need MORE POWER
TRIANGULAR orbits will help Rosetta to get up close with Comet 67P
Probe will be just 10km from Space Duck in October
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
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
Why your mum was WRONG about whiffy tattooed people
They're a future source of RENEWABLE ENERGY
Vulture 2 spaceplane autopilot brain surgery a total success
LOHAN slips into some sexy bespoke mission parameters
LOHAN acquires aircraft arboreal avoidance algorithm acronyms
Is that an ARMADILLO in your PANTS or are you just pleased to see me?
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
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.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
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.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.