NASA’s Curiosity rover locates unusually shiny pancake-shaped Mars rock


A rock on Mars as seen by NASA’s Curiosity rover. This is exactly what my misshapen pancakes look like on Sunday mornings.

NASA / JPL-Caltech / MSSS

There may be turmoil on Earth, but contemplating the quiet stillness of strange rocks on Mars can be a relaxing escape. Especially when they look like common earth objects, like pancakes and drill bits.

Curiosity snapped several views of a smooth, shiny rock on November 3. It is in good company with other smaller rocks that have a similar sheen.

The larger rock looks a lot like a wayward pancake, but keep in mind that these close-up images often make the small pebbles look bigger than they actually are. (This is one of the reasons why this strange little rock seen in 2019 it wasn’t a robotic leg.)

Scientists on Twitter have shared and discussed some of the fun-shaped rocks Curiosity has seen in recent days. Planetary scientist Emily Lakdawalla retweeted a shot of the shiny rock along with a file beautiful tribute poem (inspired by Moana) on how it could have been “sanded smooth”.

The rock – which one observer thought looked like melted chocolate ice cream – could be a “ventifact” smoothed by wind and sand. Mars has abundant stocks of both.

City scientist Kevin Gill, who delivered several spectacular selfie rover Curiosity, tweeted a collection of small rocks, one of which amusingly resembles a cross-headed drill bit thanks to the way light plays on it.

“Nice of Mars Curiosity to uncover that Phillips head drill I lost a few months ago,” joked Gill. The image is from Curiosity photos on October 30 and was taken by the ChemCam instrument in the foreground.

This isn’t a Phillips drill bit on Mars, but it’s fun to pretend.

NASA / JPL-Caltech / LANL / Red circle by Amanda Kooser / CNET

Curiosity is investigating an area of ​​”rough terrain,” according to a blog post from the rover update Wednesday. “The team’s primary goal is to document the textures, relationships and chemistry of the rocks we encounter,” wrote planetary geologist Lucy Thompson with the University of New Brunswick.

Soon we should have even more images of Mars to enjoy. NASA’s Perseverance rover he is halfway through his journey to Mars with a landing scheduled for February 2021. He will settle in a different part of the planet, but he will surely find some fun rocks to observe during his adventures.

While Mars is currently a pancake-free zone, it is a playground for the human imagination as well our ability to see familiar objects in random shapes, a phenomenon called pareidolia.

With a company called Aleph Farms already planning in advance how to supply steaks without slaughter to the future astronauts of Mars, the dream of real pancakes on Mars may one day come true. Don’t forget to pack maple syrup.

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