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Mars NASA Science

Curiosity Spies Unidentified, Metallic Object On Mars 396

MrSeb writes "A few hundred million miles away on the surface of the Red Planet, Mars rover Curiosity has photographed an unidentified, shiny, metallic object. Now, before you get too excited, the most likely explanation is that bright object is part of the rover that has fallen off — or perhaps some debris from MSL Curiosity's landing on Mars, nine weeks ago. There is the distinct possibility, however, that this object is actually native to Mars, which would be far more exciting. It could be the tip of a larger object, or perhaps some kind of exotic, metallic Martian pebble (a piece of metal ore, perhaps). Close-up imagery will now be captured and analyzed, and within the next few days we should know if it's simply a piece of Curiosity — or something a whole lot more exciting."
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Curiosity Spies Unidentified, Metallic Object On Mars

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  • by Jeremiah Cornelius ( 137 ) on Tuesday October 09, 2012 @02:33PM (#41599043) Homepage Journal


  • Re:Wow (Score:5, Interesting)

    by PPH ( 736903 ) on Tuesday October 09, 2012 @03:15PM (#41599599)

    It has happened before: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spanish_Empire [wikipedia.org]

    Matters began to change in the 1520s with the large-scale extraction of silver from the rich deposits of Mexico's Guanajuato region, but it was the opening of the silver mines in Mexico's Zacatecas and Bolivia's Potosi in 1546 that became legendary. During the 16th century, Spain held the equivalent of US$1.5 trillion (1990 terms) in gold and silver received from New Spain. Ultimately, however, these imports diverted investment away from other forms of industry and contributed to inflation in Spain in the last decades of the 16th century

  • Re:Wow (Score:5, Interesting)

    by icebike ( 68054 ) * on Tuesday October 09, 2012 @03:19PM (#41599639)

    The only reason we would go to Mars before we can live there is if we found life.

    Or to seed life.

    Just sayin...
    Sooner or later, even if we find primitive life, we should start thinking about what can be done with the planet, even if it takes 1000 years to
    get something to live there.

  • by GReaToaK_2000 ( 217386 ) on Tuesday October 09, 2012 @03:21PM (#41599649)

    It doesn't look like there is any local deformation of the Martian ground where that shiny object is.

    So, to me it doesn't seem like it's something that "fell off" Curiosity nor it's landing contraptions. This doesn't mean that it's not but just saying it's rather odd that there are no "crater-like" rings or dirt moved around the shiny thing.

    Granted a gust of the Martian atmosphere may have re-covered the "crater" but there would still be some sort of visible change in the soil around it.

    I think it might be Martian "ore" of some sort.

  • Re:C'mon man... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tgd ( 2822 ) on Tuesday October 09, 2012 @03:37PM (#41599851)

    Yes, it's a (piece of a) spaceship named Curiosity. Seriously, the robot finds a metallic piece of something close to where it landed... what are the odds that part is not from Curiosity itself? (answer ~0%)

    Well, its not actually very close to where it landed, at this point. And they've taken quite a few photos of the rover. What'll be interesting is if it IS a part from the rover, how did they not notice it was missing? And how did it come off? Seems more likely it'd be part of the lander, but IIRC, it didn't fly off in that direction.

    I think your zero estimate is far off, if you're talking about Curiosity itself. If you're talking the whole Rube Goldberg contraption that landed it there... well, that may be a fairly low odds its not.

  • Re:Wow (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Jeng ( 926980 ) on Tuesday October 09, 2012 @03:40PM (#41599881)

    Lets say we went and put a killer whale on the moon, err Mars. For how long do you think the bacteria would be able to live on the corpse?

    Do you think the bacteria would have time to evolve to be able to spread beyond the corpse before their initial food supply was depleted?

  • Re:Wow (Score:5, Interesting)

    by NEDHead ( 1651195 ) on Tuesday October 09, 2012 @04:18PM (#41600387)

    Which raises an interesting question:

    What would be an optimal design for an artificial magnetic field for Mars that would provide the equivalent protection that we enjoy on Earth? Assuming superconducting cables, what location(s) would be suitable; what currents would be required; what danger zones would be created; and what would be the annual energy cost?

  • Re:Wow (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Robotbeat ( 461248 ) on Tuesday October 09, 2012 @06:35PM (#41601851) Journal

    Actually, you're exactly correct. Investing enormous resources into digging a shiny metal out of the ground (which is mostly used for investment purposes, not for industrial uses) is a waste of resources. It's far better to use those resources and build better infrastructure than something that just sits in a vault and is never used productively. A central bank is much more efficient, also, because they can control the money supply, theoretically evening out the business cycle (though there are limits to this as we've seen recently... the rates can't really go below zero, so the ability to counter-act a huge decline in aggregate demand is limited).

    Macroeconomics and monetary policy... learn it! I mean, End the Fed! Woo, Ayn Rand! Gold!

    (and no, I'm not talking about unlimited monetary policy... MMT is not accurate. Deficits do matter, though not quite as much if your country controls its own currency... Going to a gold standard means you lose control over your country's currency and you may end up suffering the downward austerity spiral of countries like Spain who no longer control their currency... Versus the recovering Iceland, who do control their own currency in spite of an epic financial crisis.)

    (FWIW, we probably should nationalize the Fed one of these days.)

We gave you an atomic bomb, what do you want, mermaids? -- I. I. Rabi to the Atomic Energy Commission