The unusually smooth and reflective Martian rock attracted the attention of NASA scientists, which prompted an investigation by the Curiosity rover. With the spectacular successful landing of the InSight probe on Mars last week, our attention was largely redirected away from Curiosity, which has been researching the Red Planet since 2012.
As we drove over InSight, the NASA six-wheel rover worked on the Vera Rubin Ridge, which explored the Highfield excavation, a unique patch of gray horn.
Curiosity was earlier at Highfield, but NASA's mission controllers wanted to see four pre-detected rocks – including an unusually smooth rock that looks at least black and white as a piece of gold.
Immediate suspicions are that the rock, called Little Colonsay, is a meteorite, but NASA scientists will not know for sure until Curiosity performs a chemical analysis. Cheveram rover instrument consisting of camera, spectrograph and laser, offers a chemical laboratory on site.
This curiosity may have encountered a meteorite is not shocking. Over the course of the journey, Rover has recaptured several such objects, including a huge metallic meteorite in 2015 and a glossy Nickel Iron Meteorite next year.
Other interesting objects discovered by Curiosity are seemingly out of place, a smooth, strangely shaped object that turned out to be a piece of plastic envelope that fell from the rover and an excellent ball, a natural geological process called concrete.
Perhaps the worst event occurred in 2013, when Curiosity detected stones that had a wonderful image of squirrels – a classic case of pareidolia, a kind of optical illusion, in which faces, animals, or everyday objects are predicted to be irrelevant stimuli or media.
Anyhoo, the Curiosity rover, will also investigate the Flanders Moss stone rock, which, due to its dark color, earned its name. Again, NASA will no longer know about this object until Curiosity analyzes the sample after drilling. Two other scales, Forres and Eidon, will also be explored in front of Curiosity bails at Highfield.
Unfortunately, it is currently the only mobile rover on Mars. His cousin, Opportunity rover, was without commission, because a thunderstorm forced him into a state of rest, a sleep that could not be awakened. NASA has not yet said that the mission is dead, but they should know more about the status of the opportunity early next year.[NASA JPL]