Another Shiny Object Seen In Pictures From Mars Is Now Explained | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

NPR : News

Another Shiny Object Seen In Pictures From Mars Is Now Explained

Last week, a blogger at Universe Today began a bit of an Internet frenzy when a reader spotted a shiny object in one of the pictures taken on Mars by the Curiosity rover.

There it was, a piece of what looked like shiny metal sticking out from a rock. It's not the first time the Mars rover Curiosity had spotted a shiny object. The last time around — back in October — a very small, plastic-looking object created the same kind of speculation. (Could it be?) It turned out it, the plastic looking thing was likely a piece of the spacecraft that dropped the rover off in Mars.

Today, NASA sent an analysis of the latest image from Ron Sletten, a team collaborator who studies soils at the University of Washington.

No, Sletten said, this is not a piece of debris from an alien spacecraft. It's actually a piece of rock that is more resistant to erosion than the rock it's embedded in.

"The rock on top of the projection is likely more resistant to wind erosion and protects the underlying rock from being eroded," he writes. "The shiny surface suggests that this rock has a fine grain and is relatively hard. Hard, fine grained rocks can be polished by the wind to form very smooth surfaces."

In some ways, said Sletten, it's a lot like what happens to rocks in Antarctica.

Sletten put together a slideshow that explains his thinking:

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

The World Music Education of Philip Glass

In his new memoir, Music Without Words, the composer explains how a chance meeting with Ravi Shankar sparked a fascination with the cultures of the world and their music.
NPR

PepsiCo Swaps Diet Drink's Aspartame For Other Artificial Sweeteners

The company says Diet Pepsi consumers are concerned about aspartame. But the Food and Drug Administration has long affirmed that the sweetener is safe in amounts commonly used by beverage companies.
NPR

8 Obama Jokes That Stood Out From The White House Correspondents Dinner

Every year, the president sits down for dinner with Washington reporters and delivers a standup routine. From his "bucket list" to Hillary Clinton, here's what he came up with this year.
NPR

As Health Apps Hop On The Apple Watch, Privacy Will Be Key

The notion of receiving nutrition advice from artificial intelligence on your wrist may seem like science fiction. But health developers are betting this kind of behavior will become the norm.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.