Quantcast

Curiosity Rover Investigates An Iron Meteorite On Mars

July 16, 2014
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/LANL/CNES/IRAP/LPGNantes/CNRS/IAS/MSSS

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports – Your Universe Online

Since its safe landing in August 2012, NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover has been busily carrying out its assigned tasks and making new discoveries.

Yesterday, NASA released a new image from the intrepid little rover in which it shows an iron meteorite encountered on its travels. The meteorite, dubbed “Lebanon,” is similar in shape and luster to iron meteorites found on Mars by the previous generation of rovers, Spirit and Opportunity.

According to the NASA release:

This view combines a series of high-resolution circular images taken by the Remote Micro-Imager (RMI) of Curiosity’s Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) instrument with color and context from rover’s Mast Camera (Mastcam). The component images were taken during the 640th Martian day, or sol, of Curiosity’s work on Mars (May 25, 2014).

The imaging shows angular shaped cavities on the surface of the rock. One possible explanation is that they resulted from preferential erosion along crystalline boundaries within the metal of the rock. Another possibility is that these cavities once contained olivine crystals, which can be found in a rare type of stony-iron meteorites called pallasites, thought to have been formed near the core-mantle boundary within an asteroid.

Iron meteorites are not rare among meteorites found on Earth, but they are less common than stony meteorites. On Mars, iron meteorites dominate the small number of meteorites that have been found. Part of the explanation could come from the resistance of iron meteorites to erosion processes on Mars.

ChemCam is one of 10 instruments in Curiosity’s science payload. The U.S. Department of Energy’s Los Alamos National Laboratory, in Los Alamos, New Mexico, developed ChemCam in partnership with scientists and engineers funded by the French national space agency (CNES), the University of Toulouse and the French national research agency (CNRS). More information about ChemCam is available at http://www.msl-chemcam.com. The rover’s MastCam was built by and is operated by Malin Space Science Systems, San Diego.

—–

FOR THE KINDLE – The History of Space Exploration: redOrbit Press


Source: redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online



comments powered by Disqus