Curiosity finds a meteorite

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The Curiosity science team have identified and now analyzed a nickel-iron meteorite that Curiosity spotted on October 27.

Scientists of the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) project, which operates the rover, first noticed the odd-looking rock in images taken by Curiosity’s Mast Camera (Mastcam) at at a site the rover reached by an Oct. 27 drive. “The dark, smooth and lustrous aspect of this target, and its sort of spherical shape attracted the attention of some MSL scientists when we received the Mastcam images at the new location,” said ChemCam team member Pierre-Yves Meslin, at the Research Institute in Astrophysics and Planetology (IRAP), of France’s National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) and the University of Toulouse, France.

ChemCam found iron, nickel and phosphorus, plus lesser ingredients, in concentrations still being determined through analysis of the spectrum of light produced from dozens of laser pulses at nine spots on the object. The enrichment in both nickel and phosphorus at some of the same points suggests the presence of an iron-nickel-phosphide mineral that is rare except in iron-nickel meteorites, Meslin said.

The find is not unprecedented but it is interesting nonetheless.



  • DougSpace

    How many nickel-iron meteorites have now been found on Mars? It seems far higher than one would find by traveling the same distances on Earth. I wonder if the quantity accessible would be good enough to consider as the main source of metals for use by a permanent base.

  • ken anthony

    An Iranian guy I knew said they used to pick up gold just walking along the river in fairly recent history (this was about 50 years ago.) Imagine what it might have been like a thousand years ago before people had swept an area clean?. All metal on a planet’s surface comes from meteorites since earlier metals are in their core.

    Once we have colonists on mars we will have daily news stories of their valuable finds.

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