Meteorite on Mars.Opportunity, one of the twin rovers on Mars, has discovered the first meteorite meteorite, meteor that survives the intense heat of atmospheric friction and reaches the earth's surface. Because of the destructive effects of this friction, only the very largest meteors become meteorites. on a planet other than Earth. Initial observations, taken from a distance with the rover's thermal-emission spectrometer, indicated that the pitted, basketball-size body is a metal-rich meteorite. Driving close enough to use its X-ray and gamma-ray spectrometers, Opportunity confirmed the object's meteorite status and revealed that it's made mostly of iron and nickel, NASA NASA: see National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
in full National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Independent U.S. announced on Jan. 21.
The metallic composition indicates that the rock came from an asteroid or planetary chunk large enough for its mixture of minerals to have separated into a dense, metallic core and a lighter, rocky mantle, notes rover researcher Steve Squyres Steven W. Squyres (born 1957) is a professor of astronomy at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. His research area is in planetary sciences, with a focus on large solid bodies in the solar system such as the terrestrial planets and the moons of the Jovian planets. of Cornell University.
Scientists have dubbed the meteorite Heat Shield Rock Heat Shield Rock is a basketball-sized iron-nickel meteorite found on Mars by the Mars rover Opportunity in January 2005. The meteorite was formally named Meridiani Planum because it lies near debris from Opportunity's heat shield in Meridiani Planum, the cratered plain where the rover landed on Jan. 24, 2004. Metal-rich meteorites Meteorites
See also astronomy.
the science of aerolites, whether meteoric stones or meteorites. Also called aerolitics.
the study of meteorites. Also called meteoritics. are relatively rare on Earth, and scientists have hypothesized that Mars is also bombarded by many more rocky meteorites than metallic ones, notes Squyres.
Other clumps of material seen at the surface of Meridiani Planum may be rocky meteorites, he suggests.
Given the multitude of meteorites that scientists have already studied on Earth, meteorites on Mars are more interesting for what they might reveal about the Red Planet than about the rocks themselves. For example, determining the number of exposed meteorites at Meridiani Planum could indicate whether the flatland flat·land
1. Land that varies little in elevation.
2. flatlands A geographic area composed chiefly of land that varies little in elevation. is gradually eroding or being built up by ongoing geophysical processes.