Rover's Latest Find: Rock Type Not Seen Before on Mars

Although it's not that unusual on Earth
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 12, 2012 6:05 AM CDT
Rover's Latest Find: Rock Type Not Seen Before on Mars
This image from Curiosity shows a scoop full of sand and dust lifted by the rover's first use of the scoop on its robotic arm. Near the bottom of the image, a bright object is visible on the ground.   (AP Photo/NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

Curiosity has identified a type of rock that no rover had previously spotted on Mars. It has the same chemical composition as rocks relatively common on Earth, found in rift zones like Hawaii's volcanoes, Wired reports. They develop in high-pressure conditions, often near water, though it's unclear if that's how this one formed, notes USA Today. The discovery of the rock, nicknamed "Jake Matijevic" in honor of a late NASA engineer, doesn't quite fit with the rover's mission to find conditions for life; Curiosity was analyzing it primarily in order to test instruments like an X-ray spectrometer and a laser blaster.

Meanwhile, the "bright object" that Curiosity earlier found is probably just a piece of the rover itself, engineers say—either tubing or bonding material that fell off the rover. Either way, "it’s completely inconsequential to the rover’s function," says a scientist working on the mission. (More Mars stories.)

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