NASA’s Mars rover Opportunity will make a pit stop to get a
closer look at a toaster-sized rock that scientists think is a meteorite.
“The dark color, rounded texture and the way it is perched
on the surface all make it look like an iron meteorite,” Mars scientist Matt
Golombek, with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, said in a
The rock is about 45 centimeters, or 18 inches, wide, at
least from the rover’s current perspective. The rock was first seen in a
picture taken Sept. 16. It’s been named Oileán Ruaidh (“ay-lan ruah”), the
Gaelic name of an island off the coast of northwestern Ireland.
If confirmed, the meteorite will be the fifth discovered by
Opportunity since arriving on Mars in 2004. The rover has been heading toward a
large crater known as Endeavour for about two years. Its rover twin, Spirit,
has not been heard from since March 22.
(Image: An extraterrestrial rock on an extraterrestrial
world? Credit: JPL/NASA)