NASA’s Curiosity rover reportedly captured the image of a shiny object on the surface of Mars last week, on Mount Sharp. On closer inspection, the object turned out to be a metallic meteorite, which was singled out as being bizarre due to its smoothness.
The Red Planet’s thin atmosphere and near location to the asteroid belt make meteorites a common phenomenon on the surface. However, the newly discovered meteorite, nicknamed the ‘Egg Rock‘ on account of its smoothness, incited added interest due to its texture. After studying a close-up image of the object, NASA scientists were able to analyze its composition and suggest that the meteorite is most probably composed of nickel-iron and has its origin in the core of a structure present in the asteroid belt. Incidentally, the asteroid belt objects often collide into Mars after being pushed out by the gravity of Jupiter.
The scientists also noticed numerous deep grooves on the meteorite and explained it as the result of the object having been molten at one point, which could have occurred when it was entering Mar’s atmosphere. Once the metallic meteorite touched the surface, it again became hard. According to the scientists, some of the grooves on the object are due to weathering effects.
Finding meteorites on Mars is not a rare phenomenon; however, it is an exciting prospect for researchers as they are able to analyze the various rocks that land on the Red Planet, which can’t make their way to our planet due to the Earth’s atmosphere. In addition, the meteorites present on the surface of Mars is also in a more pristine condition as compared to the ones that are found on Earth, because the Red Planet has less weather erosion and oxidation. Studying the rocks also give the researching scientists an opportunity to understand more about the objects that make up the asteroid belt.