Curiosity Mars Rover Spots Candidate Iron Meteorites

Curiosity selfie taken in Glen Torridon area.
Credit score: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS




In its on-the-ground Pink Planet surveillance, NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover has catalogued a brand new set of huge iron meteorites

The distributions and compositions of iron meteorites are of curiosity partly as a result of they will constrain fashions of physiochemical weathering skilled because the area rocks got here to full-stop on Mars.

These meteorites function “witness plate” rocks, studies Jeffrey Johnson, a planetary geologist on the Johns Hopkins College Utilized Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland.

Curiosity Mastcam enhanced shade photographs. High picture reveals Island Davaar from 21 meters distance. Backside photograph captures Obar Dheathain at 31 meters distance.
Credit score: J.R. Johnson, et al.

At a distance

In a paper to be offered at this yr’s digital Lunar and Planetary Science Convention, Johnson and colleagues report that on Sols 2958-2970, Curiosity recognized a set of huge iron meteorite candidates in November-December of final yr.

Because the robotic meandered within the southern Glen Torridon area, it used a variety of onboard instruments to take a distant take a look at the meteorites. The rover acquired Mastcam multispectral photographs, together with the Chemistry and Digital camera (ChemCam) buying passive spectra of the objects supported by the Distant Micro-Imager (RMI).

Utilizing these devices, three candidate meteorites – Island Davaar, Obar Dheathain, and Eilean have been remotely recognized from so far as 410 toes (125 meters) distance. The tagging of them as meteorites is predicated on the targets’ textures, dimension, and comparatively bluish shade.

Parts of ChemCam RMI picture mosaics of Eilean.
Credit score: NASA/JPL-Caltech/LANL

Parts of ChemCam RMI picture mosaics of Obar Dheathain.
Credit score: NASA/JPL-Caltech/LANL

Measurement estimates

The trio of candidate meteorites are the biggest seen because the discovery by Curiosity of the Littleton/Lebanon (formally Aeolis Palus 001, 002, 003) meteorites again on Sol 637.

Photographs from Curiosity’s Navcam stereo digital camera enabled dimension estimates of every meteorite: Island Davaar: roughly 0.75 x 1.Zero meters; Obar Dheathain: roughly 1.5 x 0.three meters; and Eilean: roughly 0.5 x 1 meters.

Whereas no ChemCam laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS) measurements have been acquired of those rocks, Johnson and his co-authors word that the brand new reflectance information builds upon earlier discoveries of meteorites by Curiosity that used related strategies, in addition to use of LIBS. Additionally used within the new work are earlier observations of iron meteorites noticed by NASA’s Alternative Mars Exploration Rover.


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