PASADENA, Calif., Sept. 22 (UPI) — The Mars Rover Opportunity snapped an image of a rock on the planet’s surface that may be a meteorite and is being sent to investigate, U.S. scientists say.
At the end of a 266-foot drive on Sept. 16, Opportunity took the picture of the dark rock sitting another 102 feet away, scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., say.
The rover’s science team has decided to get a closer look at the toaster-sized rock and determine whether it is an iron meteorite.
“The dark color, rounded texture and the way it is perched on the surface all make it look like an iron meteorite,” science-team member Matt Golombek said.
Examination of the rocks could provide information about the martian atmosphere, as well as the composition of the meteorite itself.
The rock has been given the informal name “Oilean Ruaidh” (pronounced ay-lan ruah), the Gaelic name for an island off the coast of northwestern Ireland.
Opportunity has driven 14.5 miles on Mars, and the drive to this rock will take the total combined distance driven by Opportunity and its twin, Spirit, to more than 19.26 miles, JPL said.
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