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NASA rover makes unusual discovery on Mars – researcher calls it 'lucky bag'

NASA rover makes unusual discovery on Mars – researcher calls it 'lucky bag'

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The Red Planet Mars. The massive Valles Marineris rift system is clearly visible even from orbit. Nearby is a newly discovered volcano. (Symbolic image) © imago/StockTrek Images

An unusual discovery on Mars has surprised researchers. It could provide new insights into the Red Planet's geological past.

PASADENA — NASA’s Mars rover Perseverance has made a remarkable discovery. It has found a remarkable rock outcropping in the Mount Washburn area. Brad Jarzynski of Western Washington University in Washington was excited: “The diversity of textures and compositions at Mount Washburn was an exciting discovery for the team.”

NASA's Perseverance rover discovers strikingly shiny rock on Mars

Jarzynski described the site as a “geological gift bag,” adding: “Out of all these different rocks, there was one that caught our eye.” The stunning stone, which is about 35 centimeters wide and 45 centimeters high, has been named “Atoko Point,” after a location in the Grand Canyon. Its color is particularly striking: a light-colored mottled stone that’s hard to miss amidst the many darker rocks. A photo from the rover shows the striking stone surrounded by less striking rocks.

Exotic Martian rocks are composed mainly of pyroxene and feldspar.

The “Atoko Point” differs in the size, shape, and arrangement of its mineral grains and crystals – and perhaps its chemical composition – from any other rock the probe has discovered so far, according to one of the researchers. notice NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). Studies using the rover's SuperCam and Mastcam-Z instruments indicate that the rock is composed primarily of pyroxene and feldspar minerals.

How did the strange Martian rock form? Researchers have two guesses

Some scholars fromperseveranceThe team suspects that the minerals that make up Atoko Point were formed in an underground body of magma. This could now be exposed on the rim of the crater. However, other members of the team believe that the distinctive stone was formed elsewhere on Mars, and was transported to its current location by rivers that once existed on Mars.

A bright, mottled rock on the surface of Mars, discovered by NASA's Perseverance rover, is attracting the attention of researchers.
A bright, mottled rock on the surface of Mars, discovered by NASA's Perseverance rover, is catching the attention of researchers. © NASA/JPL-Caltech/Arizona State University/MSSS

However, the research team agrees that the “Atoko Point” is the first of its kind to be found on Mars. And they believe it will not be the last. In the Bright Angel region adjacent to Mars, Perseverance has already discovered “oddly shaped rocks that you have never seen before.” Some time ago, the rover also managed to find a rock that looks like a donut. And “Perseverance” has already spotted “shark fins” and a “crab claw” on Mars. (unpaid invoice)

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