NASA's Mars Curiosity rover has spotted a small, mysterious, shiny object amid the dust and rock on the surface of the red planet.
Curiosity's Shiny Rock
For now, the U.S. space agency is not sure exactly what the item is; scientists suspect that the object is a meteorite judging from its shiny exterior. However, unless they can properly examine the object, they cannot make a classification.
NASA, however, gave the object a nickname: Little Colonsay.
Scientists behind the mission were already targeting Little Colonsay for further observation but missed it the first time. The team hopes to revisit the Highfield drill site where Little Colonsay was spotted to get a closer look at the mysterious shiny object.
If it was a meteorite, it will not be the first that the rover has picked up on the surface of Mars
. In 2016, Curiosity also spotted
a metal meteorite that was dubbed Egg Rock. Scientists believe that the rock was made up of nickel-iron that likely came from the planetary core of a planetesimal located from the nearby asteroid belt.
"The planning team thinks it might be a meteorite because it is so shiny," NASA wrote
in an update. "But looks can deceive, and proof will only come from the chemistry."
The space agency hopes to examine three other rocks at the site, including Flanders Moss which has a dark coating. The team will be using ChemCam, an instrument that can analyze the chemistry of an object remotely. It is equipped with its own camera, spectrograph, and laser — basically a chemistry laboratory.
Curiosity Welcomes InSight To Mars
This week, Curiosity also welcomed a new explorer to Mars. The rover, according to NASA, woke up to Mr. Rogers' "Please would you be my neighbor" to celebrate the touchdown of InSight, a new lander that is tasked to make a thorough examination of the "inner space" of Earth's neighboring planet.
After more than six months of journey across space, InSight arrived on Mars on Monday, Nov. 26. It landed on the flat and smooth surface of Elysium Planitia, about 373 miles from Gale Crater where Curiosity landed in 2012.