NASA Discovers Mars Rock That’s Not Like The Others

This story is part of Welcome to Marsour series exploring the red planet.

Here’s a reminder that Earth isn’t the only planet with cool meteorites. Mars also gets its share of incoming space rocks. NASA’s Curiosity rover spotted a beauty of a specimen in Gale Crater in late January.

The rock – dubbed “Cacao” by the rover team – stood out against the surrounding landscape. “The rock we’re parked in front of is one of several very dark blocks in the area that appear to be from elsewhere, and we call them ‘foreign rocks,'” Curiosity team member Ashley Stroupe wrote in a rover -Updated to January 27th. “Our investigations will help determine whether this is a block from elsewhere on Mars that has just weathered in an interesting way, or whether it is a meteorite.”

Closer inspection revealed the shiny, dark gray, pockmarked object to be a meteorite. “Stone. Stone. Stone. Stone. Stone. Stone. METEORITE!” The Rover team tweeted on Thursday, saying it’s not uncommon to find meteorites on Mars but that a change of scenery is always nice.

According to NASA, the meteorite consists of iron-nickel, making it a type of meteorite that is also common on Earth. It is a fairly large object, about 30 centimeters wide. It’s bigger than one potential meteorite discovered by Curiosity earlier in January.

NASA took the opportunity of the new meteorite discovery to look back on some other impressive finds, including meteorites named “Egg Rock” And “Lebanon” (an absolute unit, also known as The Beast). These show how varied the sizes of meteorites on Mars can be.

Meteorites are not only a thing of the past on the Red Planet. NASA’s recently decommissioned InSight lander has caught up the sound of space rocks crashing onto Mars in 2020 and 2021.

Since 2012, curiosity has driven Gale Crater to understand if the red planet might have once been habitable for microbial life. Along the way it has opened a treasure chest of otherworldly sights. The newly identified meteorite is one of those objects that is both fantastic and familiar. Our planets are very different, but we share many common experiences, including space rocks.

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