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NASA Space Science

Martian Meteorite Gets NASA Mars Rover's Attention 94

Posted by samzenpus
from the would-you-look-at-that dept.
coondoggie writes "NASA's Mars rover Opportunity will take a small detour on its current journey to check out what could be a toaster-sized iron-based meteorite that crashed into the Red Planet. NASA scientists called the rock 'Oileán Ruaidh,' which is the Gaelic name for an island off the coast of northwestern Ireland. The rock is about 45 centimeters (18 inches) wide from the angle at which it was first seen on September 16."
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Martian Meteorite Gets NASA Mars Rover's Attention

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  • by maxwells_deamon (221474) on Thursday September 23, 2010 @05:31AM (#33673208) Homepage

    Lots of material spashes out of an impact. Also many small meteorites do not make craters, A thin atmosphere may help.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 23, 2010 @06:32AM (#33673454)

    Mars->Earth is comparatively easy because Mars has much lower gravity and (nowadays) has quite a thin atmosphere. I'm not sure Earth->Mars is even physically possible. It would certainly be many, many times less likely.

    In any case, out of the many thousands of meteorites found on Earth, less than a dozen are known from Mars. So it's very unlikely that the few examples that Opportunity has found are anything other than the usual bits and pieces from collisions in the asteroid belt. The iron-nickel nature of the ones found so far is consistent with such an interpretation. Iron-nickel ones are from broken-up asteroids where the process of chemical and density differentiation caused the iron-nickel to sink towards the core of the asteroid, and then it was smashed by collision -- you can't get iron-nickel meteorites by blasting at the surface of Mars or Earth because iron-nickel isn't exposed on the surface, it's deep in the core of the planets.

  • Bad naming scheme (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Mathinker (909784) * on Thursday September 23, 2010 @07:16AM (#33673674) Journal

    > NASA scientists called the rock 'Oileán Ruaidh,' which is the Gaelic name for an island off the coast of northwestern Ireland

    Can't NASA scientists think ahead a little bit to make the future a safer place? GPS manufacturers of the year 2437 are gonna be pissed when their customers end up on Mars while trying to fly to Ireland...

  • Re:Why? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Lumpy (12016) on Thursday September 23, 2010 @07:57AM (#33673852) Homepage

    I have here a server that cost well over $450,000 new and I use it only to run Quake 3 tourneys after work.

    Using worn out hardware to do other work is simply smart. the rovers are worn out, hell it's a engineering miracle they are still operating. have you SEEN photos of how dust covered they are?

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/6e/Mars_Spirit_rover's_solar_panels_covered_with_Dust_-_October_2007.jpg [wikimedia.org]

    this was in 2007, it now has 3 more years of dirt and dust on them.

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