There may be turmoil on Earth, but contemplating the quiet calm of strange rocks on Mars can be a calming escape. Especially when they resemble ordinary earth objects like pancakes and drills.
Curiosity captured several views of a smooth, shiny rock on November 3rd. He 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-ups often make small pebbles appear larger than they really are. (That’s one reason why This strange little stone was seen in 2019 wasn’t a robot leg.)
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Scientists on Twitter have shared and discussed some of the funky shaped rocks Curiosity has seen in the past few days. Planetary scientist
together with one
Shiny! https://t.co/AmlZHLXTeA— Emily Lakdawalla (@elakdawalla) November 5, 2020
(inspired by Moana) about how it could have been “smoothed with sand”.
Shiny— Emily Lakdawalla (@elakdawalla) November 5, 2020
Like a surface on a valley ventifact
That's it exact
Smoothed with sand that scrubbed and blasted crags away
That's all it takes
Mars is dry dry dry
And it rarely moves its stones. Lazybones!
So when we rove rove rove
We see rinds and weathered crap.
Let ChemCam zap!
The stone – which one observer thought looked like melted chocolate ice cream – could be a “ventifact” polished by the wind and sand. Mars has ample supplies of both.
Citizen scientist Kevin Gill, who delivered many spectacular Curiosity Rover Selfies, tweeted a collection of small stones, one of which, amusingly, looks like a Phillips drill bit thanks to the way the light plays on it.
“It’s nice that I’m curious to find the Phillips drill that I lost a few months ago,” joked Gill. The image is from Curiosity’s October 30 photos and was taken with the ChemCam close-up instrument.
According to a Rover Update blog post on Wednesday, Curiosity is investigating an area of ”debris”. The team’s primary focus is documenting the textures, relationships and chemistry of the rocks we encounter, wrote planetary geologist Lucy Thompson of the University of New Brunswick.
We should soon have more Mars images to enjoy. NASA’s Perseverance Rover is halfway on its journey to Mars with a scheduled landing in February 2021. It will settle on a different part of the planet but it is sure to find some fun rocks to google during its adventures.
While Mars is currently a pancake-free zone, it is a playground for the human imagination and our ability to see familiar objects in random shapes, a phenomenon called pareidolia.
With a company called Aleph Farms that plans how to deliver in advance Battle-free steaks for future Mars astronautsThe dream of real pancakes on Mars could one day come true. Don’t forget to pack the maple syrup.
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