The Curiosity rover on Mars has been keeping itself quite busy lately, most recently boring into Mars’ red surface in order to find signs of life. However, in its downtime, the rover likes to take a lot of photos, including self-portraits, but this time around, Curiosity came across a strange chunk of metal sticking out of the ground? What could it be?
The photo was snapped on January 30 using one of the rover’s MastCam cameras to get shots of the landscape, and it ended up getting this odd piece of metal in the frame. NASA’s scientists aren’t 100% sure what it is, but they think it may be a chunk from a meteorite, or possibly a chunk of ore that became exposed by some sort of erosion.
It’s said that the object is only a half-centimeter tall, so it’s extremely tiny compared to how big it looks in the image. NASA hasn’t said whether or not it will check out the piece of metal, or if they’ll just ignore it and continue on with their planned experiments. After all, they do have more holes to drill.
However, while some think it’s simply a tiny piece of metal, Elisabetta Bonora of Alive Universe Images, mentions that the hunk of metal takes up about 35 pixels in the image. Taking into account the camera’s resolution and the distance between the rover and the object, the size of the chunk of metal may actually be larger than just 0.5 cm — it’s possible that it’s up to a foot tall. At this point, we’ll never know, unless NASA decides to investigate, but it’s very possible they just might let it be and continue on as scheduled.
[via Universe Today]