Curiosity rover discovers peculiar metal sphere on Mars

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NASA's Curiosity rover has been exploring the surface of Mars since 2012, and it recently came upon a rather puzzling find.

While scouring Mars' Mount Sharp earlier this week, the rover stumbled upon a small, metallic meteorite with some peculiar features, according to Daily Mail.

Arizona State University reports that a long-distance, laser-guided camera on board Curiosity captured two photographs of the little meteorite dubbed "Egg Rock" by scientists due to its shape.

The first image shows the object located atop a Martian-looking landscape:

NASA

While the second, which offers a more close-up view, highlights its somewhat smooth but uneven surface:

NASA

According to researchers at the university, "egg rock" is likely composed of a mixture of nickel and iron, which gives it it's metallic appearance.

While its appearance seems to be unique, meteorites are reportedly somewhat common on Mars.

Part of the reason is that many contain iron which tends to make them more durable and resistant to erosion.

This isn't the first strange thing found on Mars and it certainly won't be the last -- here are some more bizarre finds:

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11 bizarre things the Mars Orbiter has spotted
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11 bizarre things the Mars Orbiter has spotted

1. Water may (sometimes) flow

The MRO has provided the most convincing evidence yet that small amounts of extremely salty liquid water may still flow on the surface of Mars. 

The orbiter found that some ice may melt as the red planet warms during particular seasons, allowing the liquid to run down hills, creating streaks on the Martian surface.

Photo courtesy: IMAGE: NASA/JPL-CALTECH/UNIV. OF ARIZON

2. Other spacecraft on the planet

The MRO has also kept an eye on other spacecraft that are exploring Mars from the surface.

The orbiter has snapped photos of the Spirit, Opportunity and Curiosity rovers from its post above the planet. The MRO even caught sight of Curiosity as it descended to its landing spot via parachute.

Photo courtesy: NASA/JPL-CALTECH/UA

3. Potential landing sites for new missions

The MRO has also scouted out new landing sites for other missions to Mars. Most recently, scientists have used the spacecraft's data to map out possible landing targets for a human mission to Mars.

Photo courtesy: JPL

4. Fresh craters

The MRO has also treated scientists to views of relatively fresh craters on Mars. 

One crater -- which appeared in photos in 2010 -- was not in images taken in 2008, meaning that whatever impact created the crater happened in between those years.

Photo courtesy: NASA/JPL-CALTECH/UA

5. A possible supervolcano

Thanks to data beamed back to Earth from the MRO, scientists now think that there might be a supervolcano lurking beneath the surface of a very old crater on Mars' surface.

"On Mars, young volcanoes have a very distinctive appearance that allows us to identify them," scientist Joseph Michalski, said in a statement in 2013. 

"The longstanding question has been what ancient volcanoes on Mars look like. Perhaps they look like this one," he said.

Photo courtesy: NASA/JPL/GODDARD (LEFT) AND ESA (RIGHT)

6. A dust devil spotted

The MRO also captured an incredible image of a 12-mile-high dust devil swirling on the red planet in 2012. 

While the Martian atmosphere is thinner than Earth's, wind can still whip up dust storms and dust devils on the planet, according to NASA.

Photo courtesy: NASA/JPL-CALTECH/UA

7. Martian sand dunes

The MRO has also snapped photos of fields of sand dunes on Mars, which change shape according to which way the wind blows from season to season.

At the moment, the Curiosity rover is exploring some of these martian sand dunes for the first time, investigating the sand of the red planet from close range.

Photo courtesy: NASA/JPL-CALTECH/UA

8. An avalanche

One particularly incredible photo taken in August 2015 shows an avalanche of frost falling off a scarp. The orbiter managed to catch the avalanche at the exact moment the frost was falling.

Photo courtesy: NASA/JPL-CALTECH/UA

9. Phobos and Deimos

The MRO doesn't only have eyes for Mars. 

The spacecraft has also taken some stunning photos of the red planet's moons, Phobos and Deimos, giving people on Earth a sense of the strange color of the oddly shaped moons.

Photo courtesy: NASA

9. Phobos and Deimos

The MRO doesn't only have eyes for Mars. 

The spacecraft has also taken some stunning photos of the red planet's moons, Phobos and Deimos, giving people on Earth a sense of the strange color of the oddly shaped moons.

Photo courtesy: NASA

10. A tumbling boulder

After 10 years in orbit, the MRO has definitely seen some weird stuff on the world's surface. 

One of those strange sights was the path left by an oddly shaped boulder rolling down a slope. The MRO caught some images of the tumbling rock in 2014, even spotting the area where it landed upright.

Photo courtesy: NASA/JPL-CALTECH/UA

11. Frozen carbon dioxide

The MRO's imager also spotted gullies of frost on Martian plains, which look somewhat like the patterns deltas carve on the surface of Earth.

Photo courtesy: NASA/JPL-CALTECH/UA

NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has clocked more than a decade of service at the Red Planet and has yielded scientific discoveries and magnificent views of a distant world. These images taken by MRO's HiRISE camera are not in true color because they include infrared information in order to be optimized for geological science. For more info about MRO go to: http://www.nasa.gov/mro
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