NASA's Curiosity Rover Finds Weird 'Hood Ornament' on Mars
NASA's Mars rover Curiosity has photographed a shiny, metallic-looking object that bears a passing resemblance to a door handle or a hood ornament.
The Curiosity rover has not stumbled onto evidence of an ancient civilization that took the family van to Olympus Mons for vacation, however. The object is simply a rock that the wind has sculpted into an interesting shape, scientists said.
"The shiny surface suggests that this rock has a fine grain and is relatively hard," Curiosity scientists wrote Monday (Feb. 11) in an explainer blurb accompanying the image, which was taken on Jan. 30. "Hard, fine-grained rocks can be polished by the wind to form very smooth surfaces."
Similar "ventifacted" (wind-eroded) rocks can be found here on Earth, notably on the dry, gusty plains of Antarctica, they added.
The newfound rock is not the first shiny object Curiosity has photographed on the Red Planet.