Thursday, January 13, 2005

Opportunity Spots Curious Object On Mars

NASA’s Opportunity Mars rover has come across an interesting object -- perhaps a meteorite sitting out in the open at Meridiani Planum. Initial data taken by the robot’s Mini-Thermal Emission Spectrometer (Mini-TES) is suggestive that the odd-looking “rock” is made of metal.

The curious-looking object stands out in the parking-lot like landscape of Meridiani Planum.

“We're curious about it too. We have Mini-TES data on it now, and they suggest that it may actually be made of metal,” said Steve Squyres, lead scientist on the Mars Exploration Rover mission from Cornell University.

“So we are beginning to suspect that it may be a meteorite. I stress that this is very preliminary!”, Squyres told SPACE.com.

Opportunity has been busy at work inspecting entry debris -- hardware that fell to Mars during the robot’s entry, descent, and landing over a year ago.

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