The space agency said they have sent the rover in for a closer look at the eerie object. The rock has been given a nickname by the agency – ‘Little Colonsay’ and was first spotted when the rover took a wide image of the Mars landscape. NASA said in a statement: “One of the samples that we try to get a better look at is ‘Little Colonsay. “The planning team thinks it might be a meteorite because it is so shiny.
“But looks can deceive, and proof will only come from the chemistry.”
They added: “Unfortunately, the small target was missed in the previous attempt, and with the information from that, Curiosity will try again.”
Operators of Curiosity will now used the vehicle’s six-wheeled ChemCam which will allow them to further study the rock.
ChemCam fires a laser at rocks and stones found from a distance and analyses the elemental composition of vaporised materials from areas smaller than 1mm on the surface of such Martian rocks and soils.
A spectrograph then provides the agency with details about minerals and microstructures in rocks.
This is done by measuring the composition of the resulting plasma, which is an extremely hot gas made of free-floating ions and electrons.
The camera has been programmed to resolve features five to 10 times smaller than those visible with cameras on NASA’s two Mars Exploration Rovers that first began exploring the red planet in January 2004.
NASA has a handful of rocks they are keen to investigate.
One of them is called “Flanders Moss”, a rock that NASA said shows “an interesting, dark coloured coating, for which chemistry is required to confirm its nature”.
Curiosity has recently been re-wired following software and hardware issues and switched to its spare Side-A computer in October after a memory was deleted in September.
This allowed engineers to diagnose the issue while the robot continued to go about its operations.
Part of side A was quarantined while the rover continued to store data on the unaffected side.
Source : EXPRESS