Opportunity finds possible meteorite

Sep 22, 2010
NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity used its panoramic camera to capture this view of a dark rock that may be an iron meteorite. Part of the rim of Endurance Crater is on the horizon. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell University

(PhysOrg.com) -- Images that NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity took at the end of an 81-meter (266-foot) drive on Sept. 16 reveal a dark rock about 31 meters (102 feet) away. The rover's science team has decided to go get a closer look at the toaster-sized rock and determine whether it is an iron meteorite.

"The dark color, rounded texture and the way it is perched on the surface all make it look like an iron meteorite," said science-team member Matt Golombek of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. Opportunity has found four iron meteorites during the rover's exploration of the Meridiani Planum region of Mars since early 2004. Examination of these rocks has provided information about the , as well as the meteorites themselves.

The newfound rock has been given the informal name "Oileán Ruaidh" (pronounced ay-lan ruah), which is the Gaelic name for an island off the coast of northwestern Ireland. The rock is about 45 centimeters (18 inches) wide from the angle at which it was first seen.

Opportunity has driven 23.3 kilometers (14.5 miles) on Mars. The drive to this will take the total combined distance driven by Opportunity and its twin, Spirit, to more than 31 kilometers (19.26 miles).

Explore further: Up, up and away, in the name of science education

Related Stories

Rover Confirms Meteorite on Mars

Aug 06, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Composition measurements by NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity confirm that this rock on the Martian surface is an iron-nickel meteorite.

Meteorite Found on Mars Yields Clues About Planet's Past

Aug 10, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- NASA's Mars Rover Opportunity is investigating a metallic meteorite the size of a large watermelon that is providing researchers more details about the Red Planet's environmental history. ...

Opportunity Reaches First Target Inside Crater

Sep 27, 2007

NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity has reached its science team's first destination for the rover inside Victoria Crater, information received from Mars late Tuesday confirms.

NASA Mars Rover Getting Smarter as it Gets Older

Mar 23, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity, now in its seventh year on Mars, has a new capability to make its own choices about whether to make additional observations of rocks that it spots ...

Recommended for you

Up, up and away, in the name of science education

6 hours ago

US researchers extol the virtues of high-altitude balloons for science education in a research paper published in the International Journal of Learning Technology. According to Jeremy Straub of the University of North Dakota ...

New plan proposed to send humans to Mars

7 hours ago

A new, cost-constrained U.S. strategy to send humans on Mars, could be achieved within projected NASA budgets by minimizing new developments and relying mainly on already available or planned NASA assets. ...

'Cause unknown' in SpaceX rocket blast

9 hours ago

SpaceX came up empty Monday in its search to figure out why an unmanned Falcon 9 rocket exploded minutes after blasting off from a NASA launchpad with a load of space-bound cargo.

SOFIA points telescope toward Pluto occultation

13 hours ago

The Stratosphere Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) is a modified Boeing 747SP aircraft that makes celestial observations with its German-built 100-inch telescope. The telescope is enhanced to collect ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.