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Another Weird Shiny Thing on Mars

Green lines point to a shiny protuberance on rock imaged by the Curiosity rover on Mars. Credit: NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Systems. Image processing 2di7 & titanio44 on Flickr.

Green lines point to a shiny protuberance on rock imaged by the Curiosity rover on Mars. Credit: NASA/JPL/CaltechMalin Space Science Systems. Image processing 2di7 & titanio44 on Flickr.

The Curiosity Mars rover has found some strange-looking little things on Mars – you’ve likely heard of the Mars ‘flower,’ the piece of benign plastic from the rover itself, and other bright flecks of granules in the Martian soil. Now the rover has imaged a small metallic-looking protuberance on a rock. Visible in the image above (the green lines point to it), the protuberance appears to have a high albedo and even projects a shadow on the rock below. The image was taken with the right Mastcam on Curiosity on Sol 173 — January 30, 2013 here on Earth — (see the original raw image here), and was pointed out to us by Elisabetta Bonora, an image editing enthusiast from Italy.

“The corresponding image from the left Mastcam is not there,” said Bonora via email, “which is a real shame because this would allow us to make an anaglyph.”

UPDATE: Since yesterday when we posted this, the left Mastcam image is now available, and so Bonora has put a 3-D view of this little metal-looking thingy. After seeing this anaglyph, it is even more perplexing! Make sure you view it with the red/green 3-D glasses:

See below:

3-D anaglyph from the right and left Mastcam from Curiosity showing the metal-looking protuberance. Credit: NASA/JPL/Caltech/Malin Space Science Systems. Anaglyph by

3-D anaglyph from the right and left Mastcam from Curiosity showing the metal-looking protuberance. Credit: NASA/JPL/Caltech/Malin Space Science Systems. Anaglyph by 2di7 & titanio44 on Flickr.

As Bonora pointed out, the protuberance seems different than the rock on which it sits – it could be composed of material more resistant to erosion than the rest and similar material could be within the rock, or it could be something that is “grown” on the rock.
However, it looks fairly smooth, and in fact it is not covered by dust as is the case for metal surfaces that tend to clean easily.

But “small” is the operative word here, as the little protuberance is probably about 0.5 cm tall, or even smaller 3 centimeters tall, according to the image editing specialists at UnmannedSpaceflight.com.

A closeup of the shiny protuberance. Credit: NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Systems. Image editing by  2di7 & titanio44 on Flickr.

A closeup of the shiny protuberance. Credit: NASA/JPL/Caltech/Malin Space Science Systems. Image editing by 2di7 & titanio44 on Flickr.

Another zoomed-in view of the shiny protuberance. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Malin Space Science Systems. Image via 2di7 & titanio44 on Flickr.

Another zoomed-in view of the shiny protuberance. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Malin Space Science Systems. Image via 2di7 & titanio44 on Flickr.

Here’s a full panorama of the area:

Panorama of the area, from Sol 173. Credit: NASA/JPL/Caltech/Malin Space Science Systems. Image editing by

Panorama of the area, from Sol 173. Credit: NASA/JPL/Caltech/Malin Space Science Systems. Image editing by 2di7 & titanio44 on Flickr.

Whatever it is, the weird little shiny thing is interesting, and we hope to have more details about it soon from one of the rover scientists.

See all the raw rover images on the MSL website, and more images on Bonora’s Flickr page.

About 

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

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • AK February 10, 2013, 5:31 AM

    That seems to be the garden hose nob. Them little aliens must have left it behind in their gardens which might have existed some times back.

    Someone needs to try turning it on. Maybe they will finally get some water over there.

  • Evgen Evg February 10, 2013, 8:13 AM

    It seems like, something was “edited” on panorama. Or they just want us to think this way.

  • ?????? February 10, 2013, 10:13 AM

    ????????? ?? ????????.?? ?????? ??????? ????? ??????? ??????.?? ???? ???? ??????? ?? ??????.

  • alan borky February 10, 2013, 4:21 PM

    You can clearly see what it is it’s a Martian bottle opener there’s even two upturned bottle caps sitting atop it.

  • Abi February 10, 2013, 5:21 PM

    They’re not going to photograph it close-up. And the mainstream media will not follow-up on that fact later. In other words, business as normal.

  • Mike February 10, 2013, 11:19 PM

    There appears to be another object with a rectangular hole in it between the two rocks at the bottom centre of the picture.

  • Maouie Cruz February 11, 2013, 12:53 AM

    chuck norris’ door to mars :/

  • ArtLab February 12, 2013, 12:11 AM

    I think those are my sunglasses.

  • Obzervur February 12, 2013, 4:03 AM

    With 3d glasses on, it looks like a 3 toed foot sticking out of the ground.

  • Anita February 11, 2013, 11:28 PM

    if you look directly below the bottom green line below the shiny object there is an image of a person there more part of a mural that incorporates the shiny object looks to be some thing that you grasp on to

  • Anita February 11, 2013, 11:31 PM

    not a vein mineral deposit,, a mural section ,,, 3 demencional art ,, ancient same stuff here all over the place no one looks same art type ancient murals on stone called petroglyphs have artifacts coming out of them

  • Paul Haugen February 12, 2013, 5:57 PM

    It’s Martin, the gekko from the Geico insurance ad!

  • HHH February 13, 2013, 1:32 AM

    Some body lost their trailer hitch.

  • Bethany Spielman February 13, 2013, 2:57 AM

    It’s a Terminator arm. :P

  • Stephen Knorr February 13, 2013, 4:56 PM

    don’t worry its the plug in charge station for the rover lol

  • Hymikenow February 14, 2013, 8:27 AM

    That, my friends is a Beer Tap and you are looking at the remains of an ancient Martian pub bar. There are natural reserves of Martian Best Ale underneath and here lies the hidden agenda behind the entire mission, to plunder the natural reserves of Red Ale occurring in subterranean wells on Mars.

  • Larry February 15, 2013, 1:39 PM

    If Nasa thinks they have found an alien artifact wouldn’t they steer the rover over to the object and study it closely instead of speculating on a fuzzy photo from 50 feet away??

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