The Curiosity rover on Mars has found a small meteorite on the Red Planet’s surface. According to the Arizona State University, which is involved with several of the rover’s instruments, the small and decidedly un-martian rock on Mars’ surface is probably nickel-iron. Images taken by Curiosity on October 30, 2016 show the small, gray object has some peculiar features found on metallic meteorites.
Although it’s not the first meteorite found by Curiosity on Mars (here’s one from 2014), it’s always interesting to find and study a space rock on the surface of another planet. The Spirit rover, which is no longer operating, as well as Opportunity, still roving on the red planet, have also found meteorites on the surface of Mars.
Mars would be a great place to look for meteorites. Rocks from outer space that fall to Mars’s surface are more likely than on Earth to remain in excellent condition for millions of years. That’s because moisture and oxygen – two of the main culprits that cause weathering in earthly rocks – are found in only very small amounts in the Red Planet’s surface soils.
Also, Mars is closer to the asteroid belt so more space rocks may find their way to Mars than Earth.
Those factors, combined with a thin atmosphere that provides less friction for incoming space rocks, may contribute to an abundance of meteorites on the surface of our neighboring planet.
Bottom line: Photos of the meteorite found on Mars by the Curiosity rover on October 30, 2016.
Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and founded EarthSky.org in 1994. Today, she serves as Editor-in-Chief of this website. She has won a galaxy of awards from the broadcasting and science communities, including having an asteroid named 3505 Byrd in her honor. A science communicator and educator since 1976, Byrd believes in science as a force for good in the world and a vital tool for the 21st century. "Being an EarthSky editor is like hosting a big global party for cool nature-lovers," she says.