Okay, that's pretty awesome.
NASA's Curiosity Mars rover has stumbled across yet another fascinating discovery while exploring the planet's barren surface.
This time, it appears to be an iron-nickel meteorite dubbed Cacao, which measures roughly a foot across and can be seen in an ultra-high resolution image, stitched together from 19 individual photos taken by the rover on January 28.
The mysterious object's lovely silver metallic hue stands out like a sore thumb in the surrounding, rust-colored landscape, a sulfate-bearing region of the Red Planet's Mount Sharp.
"Rock. Rock. Rock. Rock. Rock. Rock. METEORITE!" the rover's official Twitter account wrote. "It's not uncommon to find meteorites on Mars — in fact, I've done it a few times! But a change in scenery's always nice."
Rock. Rock. Rock. Rock. Rock. Rock. METEORITE!
It's not uncommon to find meteorites on Mars - in fact, I've done it a few times! (see 🧵) But a change in scenery's always nice.
This one's about a foot wide and made of iron-nickel. We're calling it "Cacao." pic.twitter.com/I37HiGjN2t
— Curiosity Rover (@MarsCuriosity) February 2, 2023
Unfortunately, Curiosity, which has been roaming the surface for well over a decade now, isn't equipped to take a sample from Cacao and bring it back home. That's one of the main objectives of the rover's cousin Perseverance, the only other active rover currently roaming the surface of Mars, which has been industriously picking up samples of Martian rock and soil.
The meteorite could still allow scientists to glean insights into the Red Planet's ancient past or whether it once hosted life. The scars and indentations on Cacao's surface were likely formed as it made its way through the planet's atmosphere, as Universe Today reports, despite the planet's thin atmosphere.
Iron nickel meteorites are also the rarest kinds of meteorites and stand a very good chance of surviving their journey through either Mars' or Earth's atmosphere.
As the Curiosity team points out in its update, the rover has come across several meteorites not unlike Cacao, from the golf ball-sized "egg rock" it found in 2016, to the massive seven-foot iron meteorite "Lebanon" — or "the Beast" — meteorite in 2014.
But there's only so much the scientists will be able to learn about Curiosity's newest find.
"There’s no way to date these," the team admitted in a Twitter reply. "But it could have been here millions of years!"
READ MORE: Curiosity Rover Finds Foot-Long Meteorite on Martian Surface [Gizmodo]
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