Curiosity finds another metal meteorite on Mars
(ORDO NEWS) — The Curiosity rover continues to do its job, exploring Mars. Currently, a high-tech rover is exploring a sulfate-containing block at the central peak of the Martian crater Gale – Mount Sharp.
The meteorite is composed mainly of nickel and iron and has been given the name: “Cocoa”. The stone is not very large, its diameter is only about 30 cm.
Since landing in Gale Crater in August 2012, Curiosity has come across several meteorites.
“Cocoa” visually stands out against the background of the environment. It is smooth and rounded, suggesting that it has passed through the atmosphere.
The image consists of six separate images taken with the rover’s Mastcam. Curiosity took the images on January 27, 2023, the 3724th Martian day, or sol, of the mission.
The colors in the image have been adjusted to match the lighting conditions as seen by human eyes on Earth.
Depressions and pits are called regmaglipts. They are especially interesting on iron meteorites. They formed as Cocoa traveled through the atmosphere.
Even though Mars’ atmosphere is much thinner than Earth’s, it still creates enough friction to heat the meteorite’s surface.
Redmaglypts are likely created by eddies of hot gas that melted the rock as it passed through the atmosphere. The meteorite may have been on the surface of Mars for a long time, but no one knows for sure.
This is not the first meteorite discovered by rovers on Mars. In 2016, MSL Curiosity discovered another golf ball-sized metal meteorite called the Egg Rock.
He examined it with his ChemCam instrument to determine its composition. A grid of five small white dots shows where the instrument’s laser hit the rock.
Iron-nickel meteorites are the rarest type of meteorite, accounting for about 6% of observed falls. But because of their distinctive appearance, they are overrepresented in collections.
This is because they are more likely to survive a passage through the atmosphere and are more weather resistant, even on Mars.
Most nickel-iron meteorites come from the cores of destroyed planetesimals that formed in the young solar system. These objects were large enough to be discernible when they were molten.
They formed a core of dense iron and nickel, much like Earth’s. But life as planetesimals (“seeds” of planets) was risky, and many of them were broken into asteroids. This is the likely story of Cacao.
This is what makes meteorites, and especially metallic ones, so interesting from a scientific point of view. They can date back billions of years before the start of the solar system.
On Earth, meteorites like “cocoa” were the first source of iron for mankind. Long before smelting, people collected these meteorites whenever they could and made knives and other tools out of them.
For example, King Tut was buried with a dagger made from meteoric iron, and the Eskimos in the Arctic and Greenland also used meteoric iron.
They repeatedly visited one particularly large iron meteorite called the Cape York meteorite.
They beat off pieces of iron to shape harpoon points and began their own Iron Age, knowing nothing about smelting. They even traded iron with other people.
“Cocoa” is just an interesting find for Curiosity. Curiosity’s mission is to explore Gale Crater, Mount Sharp.
By exploring the area, Curiosity lets you learn more about Mars’ ancient history and how it dried up into the dry wasteland it is today.
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