NASA’s Curiosity Rover discovered an odd “hood ornament” on Mars and photographed it for the operators back home.
It’s not the first time the rover has seen a shiny object while making its way across the Red Planet’s surface. This time, however, the rover’s find looked more like it belonged on the hood of a Cadillac than on the surface of Mars.
The object, however, was nothing special in the end. It was simply a rock that the wind sculpted over time into an interesting shape, reports Yahoo! News. Curiosity scientists explained the finding by writing:
“The shiny surface suggests that this rock has a fine grain and is relatively hard. Hard, fine-grained rocks can be polished by the wind to form very smooth surfaces.”
The scientists added that similar rocks can be found on Earth, mostly in the dry, gusty continent of Antarctica. The previous shiny object spotted by NASA’s Curiosity rover turned out to be a kind of native Martian mineral. The bright flecks were discovered in one of the holes the car-sized rover dug in October.
Curiosity also photographed a so-called “Mars flower” in December, notes NBC News. That photograph also garnered a lot of attention. While the photographed finds may be interesting to the general public and researchers alike, Curiosity has more interesting things to accomplish on Mars.
The rover, which carries 10 different scientific instruments and 17 cameras to help it on its quest, is perusing the Gale Crater. It is working to see if its landing site could have ever supported microbial life.
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[Image via NASA/JPL-Caltech/Malin Space Science Systems]