On Mars, as on Earth, sometimes things take on an unusual appearance. One example is a shiny-looking rock seen in a recent image from NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover.
Some casual observers might see a resemblance to a car door handle, hood ornament or some other metallic object. To Ronald Sletten of the University of Washington, Seattle, a collaborator on Curiosity’s science team, the object is an interesting study in how wind and the natural elements cause erosion and other effects on various types of rocks.
To see an image of this rock, visit https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/msl/news/msl20130211.html.
Find out what likely caused the shiny appearance of the Martian rock, and see some examples of similar phenomena found on Earth. A PDF of the images and explanatory text are available at http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/images/msl/20130211/ventifacts.pdf.
This story marks yet another discovery by Curiosity. To learn more about the challenges the Mars Science Laboratory team faced during Curiosity’s landing, also known as the “seven minutes of terror,” check out NASA Now: Forces and Motion: Curiosity — Entry, Descent and Landing. You can access the video on the NASA Explorer Schools Virtual Campus.