NASA’s Curiosity rover has just found something truly surreal on Mars – a black, shiny object which looks like an alien egg.
The object is actually a metallic meteorite – but that (of course) hasn’t stopped UFO sites from suggesting that the thing might actually hatch.
Mystery Vault says that the find raises, ‘hopes of finding life on Mars’.
It doesn’t of course – but what NASA scientists call the ‘Egg Rock’ is interesting nonetheless.
Scientists of the Mars Science Laboratory 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.
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.
Iron meteorites typically originate as core material of asteroids that melt, allowing the molten metal fraction of the asteroid’s composition to sink to the center and form a core.
‘Iron meteorites provide records of many different asteroids that broke up, with fragments of their cores ending up on Earth and on Mars,’ said ChemCam team member Horton Newsom of the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque.
‘Mars may have sampled a different population of asteroids than Earth has.’