Opportunity Spies Unusual Rock — Large Meteorite?

by Nancy Atkinson on August 1, 2009

'Block Island,' an odd-shaped, dark rock, which may be a meteorite.  Credit: NASA/JPL

'Block Island,' an odd-shaped, dark rock, which may be a meteorite. Credit: NASA/JPL



The Opportunity rover has come across an odd-shaped, large, dark rock, about 0.6 meters (2 feet) across on the surface of Mars, which may be a meteorite. The rover team spotted the rock called “Block Island,” on July 18, 2009, in the opposite direction from which it was driving. The team then had the rover do a hard right (not really, but you know what I mean) and backtrack some 250 meters (820 feet) to study it closer. Oppy has been studying the rock with its alpha particle X-ray spectrometer to get composition measurements and to confirm if indeed it is a meteorite.

Below, see a close-up, colorized version of Block Island and a 3-D version, both created by Photoshopper Extraordinaire Stu Atkinson.

Block Island close up and colorized. Credit: NASA/JPL, with image editing by Stuart Atkinson

Block Island close up and colorized. Credit: NASA/JPL, with image editing by Stuart Atkinson


Block Island really does have a meteorite-like look to it. Stu suggested on his blog that it looks like several meteorites found on Earth, such as one of the Derrick Peak meteorites found in Antarctica, shown below. The Derrick Peak meteorites are iron meteorites, and about 27 were found in one location in Antarctica. Researchers believe they all came from one meteor shower.

Check out Stu’s blog Cumbrian Sky to see lots of other meteorites, including the one Opportunity found on Mars in 2005.
Derrick peak meteorite

And below is a look at Block Island in 3-D. We’ll keep you posted on the results from Oppy’s examinations of this rock, and what this interesting find might tell us.

Block Island in 3-D.  Credit: JPL, NASA and Stu Atkinson

Block Island in 3-D. Credit: JPL, NASA and Stu Atkinson


Sources: JPL, Cumbrian Sky

About 

Nancy Atkinson is Universe Today's Senior Editor. She also works with Astronomy Cast, and is a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.

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