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It’s Official: Opportunity Found a Meteorite on Mars


—Image courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell University

Dubbed “Block Island,” the conspicuous space rock is now the largest confirmed meteorite found on the red planet, NASA announced today.

The Mars rover Opportunity snapped the above portrait of Block Island on July 31, as it moved in closer to touch the meteorite.

Opportunity’s examinations revealed that the two-foot-wide object is an iron-nickel meteorite, although where it came from exactly is still anybody’s guess.

Although Opportunity and its twin, Spirit, have found several candidate rocks during their five-plus years on Mars, Block Island is only the second official Martian meteorite.

The first—known as Heat Shield Rock, but formally named Meridiani Planum—was found in late 2004.

On the flip side, meteorites from Mars are also pretty rare, all things considered.

According to NASA, of the 24,000 or so space rocks that have been found on Earth, just 34 are known to be from Mars, presumably broken off from the red planet when something else smashed into its surface.


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    July 19, 2010, 4:35 am

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