It’s not life on Mars, but it kinda looks like it.
NASA’s Curiosity rover spotted a flower-shaped rock formation during its ongoing wanderings around the Red Planet’s Gale Crater.
The flower-shaped formation is as small as a penny, a NASA blog post reveals.
A martian flower
Curiosity captured the image of the rock formation on Feb. 24 with the Mars Hand Lens Imager, which sits on its robotic arm. According to the US space agency, the rock likely formed into its curious shape “in the ancient past when minerals carried by water held the rock together.”
In its article, NASA also explained that “in the past, Curiosity has discovered a diverse assortment of similar small features that formed when mineralizing fluids traveled through conduits in rock. Images of these features help scientists to understand the history of liquid water in Gale Crater.
The discovery is reminiscent of another interesting rock formation discovery made by the China rover Yutu 2 on the far-side of the moon. In December, the rover spotted a distant object that scientists dubbed a “mystery hut” because of its unusually symmetrical outline. The China space program sent its rover to investigate & found that, rather disappointingly, it was just a rock.
Curiosity & Perseverance pave the way for human missions
Amazingly, NASA’s Curiosity will celebrate its 10th anniversary on Mars (in Earth years) in summer. The rover landed on the Red Planet on August 5, 2012, and has since explored Gale Crater on the planet’s. Early on in its mission, rover found chemical & mineral evidence that the planet once had a habitable climate.
The machine is still studying the Red Planet and was recently joined by NASA’s Perseverance, which is searching for evidence of ancient life on Mars. This rover recently confirmed that Mars’ Jezero crater was once a huge lake and also carried a small helicopter, called Ingenuity, which carried-out the first controlled flight on another planet. All of this, of course, paves the way for the first manned missions to the Red Planet, the most ambitious science expedition in the human history.