The Curiosity Rover has been exploring Mars for six years. Since it touched down on the surface of the red planet, NASA’s alien robot has helped us understand Mars like never before.
During the long six years the rover has been driving and performing experiments on Mars, it has photographed countless different objects that have raised controversy here back on Earth.
Some of these objects have been called out by conspiracy theorists as the ultimate proof of alien life on Mars, although they are just probably oddly shaped rocks, and pareidolia causes us to see familiar shapes in them.
Now, the Curiosity rover has found another strange artifact on the surface on Mars.
It’s a strange shiny object that is unlike other rocks in its vicinity. NASA scientists named it ‘Little Colonsay’.
And now, NASA wants the rover to take another, closer look, hoping to solve the mystery as to what it actually is.
“One of the samples that we try to get a better look at is ‘Little Colonsay’,” the agency revealed in a statement.
“The planning team thinks it might be a meteorite because it is so shiny. But looks can deceive, and the proof will only come from the chemistry. Unfortunately, the small target was missed in the previous attempt, and with the information from that, Curiosity will try again.”
To understand what the shiny object really is, NASA will use the rover’s ChemCam to analyze the rock.
Curiosity’s ChemCam fires a laser at objects like the one in question, and analyses the composition of vaporized materials from it. The rover has an onboard spectrograph which can provide essential details about minerals and microstructures in rocks, as it measures the composition of the resulting plasma–the hot gas obtained from free-floating ions and electrons.
And while scientists still don’t know what exactly ‘Little Colonsay’ is, some believe the rover spotted the remnants of a meteorite.
The rover has found a plethora of similar objects during its time exploring the surface of the red planet. Curiosity found a huge metal meteorite in 2015 and a shiny nickel-iron meteorite in 2016.