Nasa has spotted a strange, shiny object lying on the Martian surface.
The planet is largely red, dusty and bland, meaning that anything unusual stands out. The latest discovery is one such object: a shiny lump that is visible on the surface.
Now the team behind the Curiosity rover intends to have a proper look at the object, in the hope of finding out what it is. Though they have their suspicions, they are ready to be surprised.
“The planning team thinks it might be a meteorite because it is so shiny,” wrote Suzanne Schwenzer, one of the curiosity team members, in an update to the mission’s blog. “But looks can deceive, and proof will only come from the chemistry.”
The object, nicknamed “Little Colonsay” by the rover’s team, has already been targeted by the scientists who control it. But they missed it the first time around, making it one of a number of objects that the team hopes to go back and have a proper look at.
The rover already snapped a photo of the object, showing its shiny coating amid the dust and rocks of the Martian surface.
But it will investigate it further with other tools in an attempt to understand its chemistry. That will be done using the onboard ChemCam, a set of tools that can examine objects remotely.
In the same journey, it will have a look at a number of other interesting specimens. One very small piece is “Flanders moss”, which has an interesting, dark coloured coating which the team hope to come to understand by examining its chemistry.
All of the work comes after Curiosity welcomed another visitor to the planet from Earth, the InSight rover. Curiosity played Mr Rogers’ song “Won’t You Be My Neighbour” to welcome its fellow visitor.