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Martian Meteorite Gets NASA Mars Rover's Attention

samzenpus posted more than 3 years ago | from the would-you-look-at-that dept.

NASA 94

coondoggie writes "NASA's Mars rover Opportunity will take a small detour on its current journey to check out what could be a toaster-sized iron-based meteorite that crashed into the Red Planet. NASA scientists called the rock 'Oileán Ruaidh,' which is the Gaelic name for an island off the coast of northwestern Ireland. The rock is about 45 centimeters (18 inches) wide from the angle at which it was first seen on September 16."

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94 comments

Hmmm...... (1)

allaunjsilverfox2 (882195) | more than 3 years ago | (#33673154)

So this rock, I suppose it Rocks?

Re:Hmmm...... (1)

davester666 (731373) | more than 2 years ago | (#33677848)

I take it NASA engineers have never read Calvin and Hobbes?

I know I wouldn't sneak up on any rocks on any foreign planets.

Something is missing (3, Interesting)

Stumbles (602007) | more than 3 years ago | (#33673172)

If that is a meteorite, then where is the crater?

Re:Something is missing (2, Informative)

gsslay (807818) | more than 3 years ago | (#33673204)

In the ground, which is at an angle in this photograph that would either put it out of sight, or off frame?

Re:Something is missing (2, Insightful)

maxwells_deamon (221474) | more than 3 years ago | (#33673208)

Lots of material spashes out of an impact. Also many small meteorites do not make craters, A thin atmosphere may help.

Re:Something is missing (5, Informative)

tokul (682258) | more than 3 years ago | (#33673238)

If that is a meteorite, then where is the crater?

Destroyed by winds and soil erosion.

Obligatory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33673350)

That's no meteorite ...

Nuke it from space, it's the only way yada yada ...

Re:Something is missing (5, Informative)

masshuu (1260516) | more than 3 years ago | (#33673352)

http://michaelscomments.wordpress.com/2006/11/19/meteorite-hits-car/ [wordpress.com]
Look at the size of that rock. It didn't make a crater the size of a house, all it did was add an easy access hole to someones trunk. And roof.
I imagine by the time a rock that size passes through the atmosphere and survives, its moving slow enough to rebound off the surface, or, in this case, get stopped by a car.

Re:Something is missing (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#33673786)

Unless it has the mass like the one that created the crater in the southwest USA. That one was far larger and had a entry trajectory that only had to deal with a few miles of atmosphere instead of coming in shallow and having a long time to do aerobraking.

that same meteorite on mars if it had came in straight on at high velocity would have made a big crater.

Plus one has to think of relative velocities. not everything in space is going 70 billion miles an hour, there is a good chance that that meteorite was floating along slowly relative to mars and simply got caught by it's gravity well. That would make it a slow decent.

Re:Something is missing (2, Informative)

blair1q (305137) | more than 2 years ago | (#33679114)

Rocks coming from space arrive at speeds from slightly less than escape velocity to much more than escape velocity*. A rock following the planet in a similar orbit may enter the planet's gravity well at a speed relatively near to 0, but by the time it hits atmosphere the relative speed will be very high. And a rock falling towards the sun on an elongated elliptical orbit that intersects the Earth's will be going extremely fast at the point it reaches the atmosphere.

The incident angle is more of a factor here. A direct descent through 100 km of progressively increasing density of air will have only a few seconds to decelerate and will make a much bigger dent than a grazing trajectory that goes through hundreds or thousands of km of atmosphere, losing speed sometimes to the point it's at terminal velocity. Although terminal velocity for a solid hunk of iron is going to be several hundred kph at least, which would make it as destructive as a cannonball.

If the meteor explodes due to atmospheric heating, pieces can go in any direction with any speed from the point of the explosion, so it might be possible for a rock to have a fairly small speed on impact with the ground.

But more likely the case for the martian meteorite here is that it hit at an oblique angle and bounced and rolled to where it sits now. Follow its track back and you'll likely find a fair sized hole that may or may not be round (impact craters are funny in that they come out round for a wide range of angles of impact).

* - Escape velocity for Earth is 11 km/s (about 25k mph).

Re:Something is missing (1)

pz (113803) | more than 2 years ago | (#33674560)

http://michaelscomments.wordpress.com/2006/11/19/meteorite-hits-car/ [wordpress.com]
Look at the size of that rock. It didn't make a crater the size of a house, all it did was add an easy access hole to someones trunk. And roof.
I imagine by the time a rock that size passes through the atmosphere and survives, its moving slow enough to rebound off the surface, or, in this case, get stopped by a car.

Yes, but keep in mind the Martian atmosphere is far less dense than the Earth's. That said, the rock in question on the Martian surface looks like it could well have bounced a fair way away from its impact site as well, and have been blown even farther during storms since it's mostly round and the ground is mostly flat.

Re:Something is missing (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 2 years ago | (#33675222)

and have been blown even farther during storms since it's mostly round and the ground is mostly flat.

It's a rock, not a tumbleweed, and as you say, the Martian atmosphere is far thinner than Earth's.

Re:Something is missing (1)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 3 years ago | (#33684080)

On Mars? Forgetting the not so minor difference in atmospheres between Earth and Mars are we?

Re:Something is missing (1)

masshuu (1260516) | more than 3 years ago | (#33684210)

Air is Air.
Its like water.
Doesn't matter if theres a foot or 100 feet of water. Or if its aerated or thickened. You hit it fast enough its still gonna stop you, and it will still feel like your hitting a brick wall.

I realize that the atmosphere is thinner. Just means an meteorite needs to have a slower relative speed to not make a giant crater.

As a previous reply pointed out, many things effect the relitive speed of a meteorite.

Re:Something is missing (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33673396)

A) it's small. Small meteorites don't make much of a crater because their velocity is slowed much more than larger meteorites
B) the area that Opportunity is visiting has experienced substantial erosion on the bedrock surface, such that even if it did make a small dent in the surface, it could be eroded away by now. More durable rock types (such as the iron-nickel meteorites found previously, and also the hematite "blueberry" concretions that litter the surface) tend to accumulate on the surface as the softer rock is worn away. It's what geologists call a lag deposit [encyclopedia.com] .

Incidentally, Opportunity has already moved a closer to the rock in question. The picture in the article was taken on Sol 2363 [nasa.gov] , and there are now pictures downloaded to Sol 2367, such as this one [nasa.gov] , and this one [nasa.gov] . The higher-resolution "Panoramic Camera" images aren't fully downloaded, but you can see the edge of the rock [nasa.gov] . Looks like the next download pass they should have some pretty good shots. Check the "raw images" page for the Opportunity Rover [nasa.gov] in the next couple of days and there should be plenty of closer shots.

Re:Something is missing (0, Flamebait)

Stumbles (602007) | more than 3 years ago | (#33673676)

A) There is not that much Martian atmosphere to slow the "meteorite" to the point a "soft landing" and I can see no re-entry rockets on said rock; so your reasoning is bollocks.

B) That's a pretty good trick of erosion to fill the crater AND at the same time push the meteorite up to make it look like no crater at all; so your reasoning is bollocks.

Re:Something is missing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33673736)

A) There is not that much Martian atmosphere to slow the "meteorite" to the point a "soft landing" and I can see no re-entry rockets on said rock; so your reasoning is bollocks.

Good thing your informed reasoning is so much better. Better tell NASA about that, before they try using aeroshell braking and parachutes in that all-too-thin-to-slow-fast-objects-down atmosphere.

And while I'm here; bollocks to you, too.

Re:Something is missing (-1, Flamebait)

Stumbles (602007) | more than 3 years ago | (#33673742)

There are no known meteorites that use "aeroshell braking" or parachutes so again your response is bollocks and has zero relevancy.

Re:Something is missing (1)

ooshna (1654125) | more than 2 years ago | (#33679458)

Ooo since we are using British curses I'll use my favorite fuckall. I think that the meteor hit the ground somewhere else and bounced to its current location.

Re:Something is missing (4, Interesting)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#33673832)

You seem know nothing about trig and astrophysics so your assertions are completey bollocks. I can come up with at last 50 scenarios where that rock can simply plop there from space slow enough to make a smallish crater, bounce out and lay on the surface. And I only took classes up to the 101 level.

Are you assuming that everything in space has millions of miles per hour relative velocities? You know the soil composition of that location?
Are you telling me that if it came in a very shallow angle it could not get any aerobraking? Strange.... as NASA thinks it can, and I am absolutely certain they know a WHOLE LOT MORE than you do on the subject.

Also given the gravity well strength of Mars, if that rock was simply captured because it was lazily floating about at only a couple hundred miles an hour, it's impact would be a low energy impact due to relative velocities calculated by any acceleration from mars's gravity well. These are only off the cuff in the head calculations. I'll leave it to you to crack out the calculator or mathlab and give us exact numbers. please calculate out at least 10 reentry angles and show us how you are right and NASA is wrong.

Re:Something is missing (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#33674072)

Looks like you took trig 101, but failed apostrophe 101. How come this is so diffuclt to grasp?

Re:Something is missing (1)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 3 years ago | (#33684092)

I can prove 1+1 != 2 too, but I won't bother cause I don't want to join you in looking stupid and failing to understand the subject matter.

and show us how you are right and NASA is wrong.

Hahahah yea, NASA NEVER makes a mistake ... like not converting units from one measurement system to the other or launching when they shouldn't or any number of a million other things they have done wrong.

Its BOUND to happen because they do A LOT of things and ALMOST ALL of them are done right, but its pretty fucking stupid to say 'its NASA there is no why they are wrong'

It's a teabagging fest! Get yer sacks unlimbered! (1)

rts008 (812749) | more than 2 years ago | (#33674060)

And I call double bollocks on your '...so your reasoning is bollocks.' statement.

A) From the fine article:

"The dark color, rounded texture and the way it is perched on the surface all make it look like an iron meteorite," said science-team member Matt Golombek of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory...

and:

Opportunity has found four iron meteorites during the rover's exploration of the Meridiani Planum region of Mars since early 2004. Examination of these rocks has provided information about the Martian atmosphere, as well as the meteorites themselves, NASA stated.

So they have seen this before, and have some good people checking this stuff out.

All we know about this is that what appears to be a meteorite sitting there.

If you bothered to actually look at the pics the AC linked to(especially the second link- note the Big Fscking Rock that this meteorite happens to be perched on, and the prevalence of rocks making up the surface in the immediate area.

We don't know that it didn't bounce or roll there- no telling when it got there, the planetary conditions at the time it arrived- maybe Mars had a thicker atmosphere then, whether it impacted there or is it just a fragment of something else that landed there.
Who knows yet?

  B) See above (re: the second link) about the rocky ground, and particularly, the previously mentioned rock this thing is perched on.
How long has it been there to show that much erosion? What caused the erosion? Where did it come from? Where did it actually impact, and at what speed and trajectory?

'...so your reasoning is bollocks.'...indeed.

Re:It's a teabagging fest! Get yer sacks unlimbere (2, Interesting)

radtea (464814) | more than 2 years ago | (#33674942)

We don't know that it didn't bounce or roll there- no telling when it got there, the planetary conditions at the time it arrived- maybe Mars had a thicker atmosphere then, whether it impacted there or is it just a fragment of something else that landed there.

This is the amusing bit: the dweebs here who assume that the only way a piece of rock from space ever winds up on a planetary surface is to come crashing straight down into the atmosphere and drill a deep hole without any fragmentation or ejecta.

I guess they are ignorant of the entire class of meteorites found on Earth that are believed to be ejecta from Martian impacts. Or they are too stupid to realize that if a rock can hit Mars hard enough that fragments sometimes wind up on Earth, maybe a few of the fragments might just possibly hit Mars at far distant locations.

Man /. is depressing this morning. The parade of arrogant ignorance on display here these days is really something to see.

Re:Something is missing (2, Informative)

spydink (256993) | more than 2 years ago | (#33674184)

A) There is not that much Martian atmosphere to slow the "meteorite" to the point a "soft landing" and I can see no re-entry rockets on said rock; so your reasoning is bollocks.

In the BBC series Wonders of the Solar System [bbc.co.uk] , this type of non-crater-producing Martian meteorite is used as possible evidence that Mars had a thicker atmosphere in the distant past when these meteorites impacted. It was in the Thin Blue Line [wikipedia.org] episode if I remember correctly.

Re:Something is missing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#33674658)

If you already have all the answers and know exactly how it happened, and are so sure your answer is more correct than NASAs, why did you waste time and bandwidth even posting the question in the first place?

If you won't believe NASA, it's a given you won't believe anyone on slashdot, so again why did you bother asking?

Re:Something is missing (1)

pz (113803) | more than 2 years ago | (#33677720)

A) There is not that much Martian atmosphere to slow the "meteorite" to the point a "soft landing" and I can see no re-entry rockets on said rock; so your reasoning is bollocks.

You are assuming that the rock is at present in the same location as when it impacted. I see no evidence to support that assumption. Given that there are months-long global sand storms on Mars (http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2001/ast11oct_2/), and the area it presently sits is flat and half-covered in sand (a perfectly good lubricant) we cannot rule out that the meteorite -- if it is indeed a meteorite -- has not been moved about by weathering forces.

Re:Something is missing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33685342)

"B) That's a pretty good trick of erosion to fill the crater AND at the same time push the meteorite up to make it look like no crater at all; so your reasoning is bollocks."

No, erosion does not fill the crater, that would be the opposite process: deposition (i.e. sediment accumulation). And while there is some deposition occurring on the surface that the rover is driving on (hence the sand dunes), it's temporary. The surface is experiencing net erosion, as indicated by the bevelled-off layers of sediment on the bedrock surface beneath the dunes, and which is exposed here and there between them. Although the exact amount is unknown, estimates of the erosion experienced on this bedrock surface are in the hundreds of metres to a kilometre range over a very long time. This is mentioned in discussion of an earlier meteorite, Heat Shield Rock [wikipedia.org] . The vertical erosion is definitely on the scale of metres, which is more than enough to effectively delete the effect of a *small* crater. Larger craters, however, still remain, from ones a few metres in diameter to much larger (hundreds of metres). The rock doesn't get "pushed up", so much as the bedrock surface gets "worn down", and a rock gets stranded in a higher position on top.

Why hasn't the same erosion destroyed the meteorite? Because as I explained, it's a more durable rock type. The bedrock in this area is quite soft compared to a chunk of iron-nickel, and while on Earth oxidation and moisture would make short work of such a metallic object (geologically-speaking), in the CO2-dominated and incredibly dry atmosphere of Mars, it's more like an extreme desert, where metallic objects experience very little chemical alteration. Most of the erosion in this area seems to be mechanical and a result of wind processes, again as indicated by the sand dunes. It's kind of like being in the path of a sandblaster, albeit a very, very slow one. Another factor is the way that wind at a given speed can transport fine particles of sediment away, but can't transport the large ones.

If you want the technical term, the rover is probably driving on a surface affected by deflation, such as is found in deserts on Earth. Take a look at "deflation" on this page [tulane.edu] . The process hasn't formed a desert pavement [wikipedia.org] , however, because there aren't enough hard rocks around, but a lot of other areas on Mars do form them, such as the area where Spirit initially landed and the Viking and Pathfinder landers.

Re:Something is missing (1)

zoso1132 (1303697) | more than 2 years ago | (#33678372)

Yup. They're going to approach it and take some measurements before moving on.

Re:Something is missing (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 3 years ago | (#33673524)

This isn't the moon, Mars has significant weather which can flatten impact craters in dust fields.

Re:Something is missing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#33673800)

Perhaps it's not a toaster-sized meteorite, but a toaster left behind by some ancient marsian culture. o_O

Re:Something is missing (1)

JamesP (688957) | more than 2 years ago | (#33674210)

OTOH they also have huge craters and 'no meteorite' in Mars

(And on Earth as well)

Oileán Ruaidh (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33673234)

Oileán Ruaidh translates to red island.

Re:Oileán Ruaidh (4, Funny)

benwiggy (1262536) | more than 3 years ago | (#33673392)

Oileán Ruaidh translates to red island.

"Oileán Ruaidh" is pronounced "red island". FTFY.

Re:Oileán Ruaidh = "ay-lan ruah" (2, Funny)

fantomas (94850) | more than 3 years ago | (#33673488)

A bit like "ay-lan ruah" apparently but yes, let us know if we're supposed to prounce that in an Irish accent, an American accent, or a Martian accent..... ;-)

Re:Oileán Ruaidh = "ay-lan ruah" (1)

vigour (846429) | more than 3 years ago | (#33673690)

A bit like "ay-lan ruah" apparently but yes, let us know if we're supposed to prounce that in an Irish accent, an American accent, or a Martian accent..... ;-)

A closer pronunciation is "ill-aawn rew-ah".

From a friendly martian.

Re:Oileán Ruaidh = "ay-lan ruah" (1)

david.given (6740) | more than 2 years ago | (#33673770)

Assuming Irish Gaelic is anything like Scottish Gaelic, it actually means 'red island'.

Neither the Martians or Irish (or Scots) appear to have much of an imagination.

Re:Oileán Ruaidh = "ay-lan ruah" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#33673936)

We know this, because we read the great grandpost.

Re:Oileán Ruaidh = "ay-lan ruah" (1)

Muros (1167213) | more than 2 years ago | (#33674082)

Assuming Irish Gaelic is anything like Scottish Gaelic, it actually means 'red island'.

Neither the Martians or Irish (or Scots) appear to have much of an imagination.

Damn NASA, that unimaginative joint Martian/Irish/Scots space agency.

Re:Oileán Ruaidh = "ay-lan ruah" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#33675040)

Gaelige - Irish gaelic - though our teachers always told us to call it "Irish" (as béarla) and not Gaelic to emphasise it was the national language and gàidhlig (Scots gaelic) are essentially the same language - 400 years ago there would have been a continuous linguistic community from the north west of Scotland the the south west of ireland with merely changes of accent and dialect.

Now the pentration of English and spelling reform in Ireland makes them look different - but Ulster Irish (in the North West of Ireland) is still quite similar to the Scottish version, at least in spoken form.

Re:Oileán Ruaidh (1)

geekmux (1040042) | more than 2 years ago | (#33675202)

Oileán Ruaidh translates to red island.

No, actually "Oileán Ruaidh" translates to "what the fuck were they smoking when they came up with this name".

Seriously, I really have to wonder sometimes about those NASA guys and their intergalactic space weed...

Probably not "Red Island" (1)

johndiii (229824) | more than 2 years ago | (#33675360)

Modern Irish would be "Oileaacute;n Rua"; "rua" is "red". "Ruaidh" is an archaic spelling, and ("oileaacute;n" being a masculine noun) would most likely signify the genitive case. So a better translation might be "Red's Island", where "Red" might be a nickname. Google returns mostly proper name results for "ruaidh", including "Cuan na Maoil Ruaidh" (Mulroy Bay), suggesting that "Roy Island" might more apt. This appears in at least one local guide:

Island Roy Oileán Ruaidh or Island Roy is a small island situated in Mulroy Bay. Unusually, it is located in a fjord-like bay and is far from the open sea. The island is situated three and a half miles from the village of Carrigart and Downings and the landscape has breathtaking views of Rossapenna’s sand-dunes, the surrounding Mulroy coastline and Donegal’s rambling hills. Island Roy is renowned for its excellent bird watching spots.

The pronunciation is probably more like "ill-aawn roy".

(Interesting but unrelated: how Red Square got its name [wikipedia.org] )

Re:Probably not "Red Island" (1)

johndiii (229824) | more than 2 years ago | (#33675572)

Oops. That should be "Oileán" - forgot the ampersand. And didn't look carefully enough at the preview.

This sounds familiar... (2)

ctrl-alt-canc (977108) | more than 3 years ago | (#33673258)

I bet that it is a meteorite that was ejected from the Earth due to a comet impact, and that reached Mars after a long journey bringing with itself traces of life.

Re:This sounds familiar... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33673454)

Mars->Earth is comparatively easy because Mars has much lower gravity and (nowadays) has quite a thin atmosphere. I'm not sure Earth->Mars is even physically possible. It would certainly be many, many times less likely.

In any case, out of the many thousands of meteorites found on Earth, less than a dozen are known from Mars. So it's very unlikely that the few examples that Opportunity has found are anything other than the usual bits and pieces from collisions in the asteroid belt. The iron-nickel nature of the ones found so far is consistent with such an interpretation. Iron-nickel ones are from broken-up asteroids where the process of chemical and density differentiation caused the iron-nickel to sink towards the core of the asteroid, and then it was smashed by collision -- you can't get iron-nickel meteorites by blasting at the surface of Mars or Earth because iron-nickel isn't exposed on the surface, it's deep in the core of the planets.

Re:This sounds familiar... (1)

JamesP (688957) | more than 2 years ago | (#33674308)

Well, I guess the main issue is that for a Mars->Earth trip the object has to lose energy (easy) whereas for Earth->Mars the object has to get energy (snowball chance in hell)

Re:This sounds familiar... (1)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 2 years ago | (#33673942)

So the ages-old mystery of how life began on Mars is finally solved!

Rock 'n Roll! (-1, Redundant)

drbinofski (1650115) | more than 3 years ago | (#33673314)

Ooh NASA goes in search of a rock on a planet made, largely, of rock! Slow news day :)

18'' (1)

AdeBaumann (126557) | more than 3 years ago | (#33673332)

Toaster-sized at 18''? That's a quite a toaster...

Re:18'' (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33673356)

If martians use a 18" toaster, this is very scary indeed....

NASA scientists obviously overpaid? (1)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | more than 3 years ago | (#33673382)

If they can afford what are presumably Dualit Vario toasters, in red finish, perhaps this is why NASA is so often over-budget. This is evidence of why Big Government is evil.

---

For the irony challenged, I don't really think NASA scientists are overpaid. What does the Tea Party use to make the toast at its tea parties, anyway?

and what do they make their tea in? (-1, Offtopic)

fantomas (94850) | more than 3 years ago | (#33673510)

Yeah, and what do Tea Party people make their tea in? My mate who moved over to the States said it was near impossible to buy a kettle there (in NYC). I suppose if the Tea Party people improve the quality of tea in the USA then that's one positive aspect to their existence...

Re:NASA scientists obviously overpaid? (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 2 years ago | (#33674678)

I would expect a NASA toaster to have an IQ of 4000.

Re:18'' (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 2 years ago | (#33675414)

Toaster-sized at 18''? That's a quite a toaster...

Obviously a four slicer.

Re:18'' (2, Funny)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 2 years ago | (#33675836)

Toaster-sized at 18''? That's a quite a toaster...

To be fair, the standard SI toaster was defined in 1897, when toasters were a novel luxury item and generally much larger due to the newness of the technology. The original standard toaster, made of solid iridium, is still kept in a vault in Paris.

In 1992, the standard toaster was redefined with dimensions based on the wavelength of a particular spectral line of light given off by a nichrome toaster heating element heated to exactly 1044 K.

Re:18'' (1)

The_mad_linguist (1019680) | more than 3 years ago | (#33684202)

An an imperial unit, the breadbox is no longer standardized in and of itself, and is in fact defined as 1.285 toasters

'pie in the sky' turning to shit as it falls (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33673450)

not so subtle 'control' of the body, mind & behaviors. destruction of the spirit & associated human compassions.

the search continues; google.com/search?hl=en&source=hp&q=weather+manipulation

google.com/search?hl=en&source=hp&q=bush+cheney+wolfowitz+rumsfeld+wmd+blair+obama+weather+authors

meanwhile (as it may take a while longer to finish wrecking this place); the corepirate nazi illuminati (while sucking DOWn stuff & feasting on nubile virgins, (remember, they (want us to) believe we came from monkeys, & they DIDN'T) is always hunting that patch of red on almost everyones' neck. if they cannot find yours (greed, fear ego etc...) then you can go starve. that's their (slippery/slimy) 'platform' now. see also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antisocial_personality_disorder

Why? (0)

bcmm (768152) | more than 3 years ago | (#33673458)

What about this meteorite is so special as to deserve a rover's attention? The rovers are very expensive pieces of kit with, presumably, limited lifespans. We get plenty of meteorites on Earth, including some practically uncontaminated ones in the Antarctic. Is this an especially unusual space-rock? Does Mars's position mean it gets types of meteorites that earth doesn't?

Re:Why? (3, Informative)

Notlupus (1893060) | more than 3 years ago | (#33673580)

Well the Opportunity Rovers initial mission was supposed to last 90 sols (1 sol = 1 day on Mars), and it has so far functioned for over 2200 sols, so anything interesting they can do with it they will just go for.

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33673602)

"Is this an especially unusual space-rock? Does Mars's position mean it gets types of meteorites that earth doesn't?"

It seems your questions have provided the perfect justification for going over and looking at it ;-)

Re:Why? (4, Interesting)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#33673664)

A rock which has been somewhere else can tell you about conditions at its source, and along the path it took to its present location. It makes sense to investigate rocks like this now because Opportunity may not live much longer. Best to take the opportunities (yeah) as they come.

Re:Why? (2, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#33673852)

I have here a server that cost well over $450,000 new and I use it only to run Quake 3 tourneys after work.

Using worn out hardware to do other work is simply smart. the rovers are worn out, hell it's a engineering miracle they are still operating. have you SEEN photos of how dust covered they are?

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/6e/Mars_Spirit_rover's_solar_panels_covered_with_Dust_-_October_2007.jpg [wikimedia.org]

this was in 2007, it now has 3 more years of dirt and dust on them.

Re:Why? (1)

JasoninKS (1783390) | more than 2 years ago | (#33674588)

Actually, they've gotten very lucky with little "dust devils" over the years. The panels have gotten a small cleaning now and then.

Re:Why? (1)

wynterwynd (265580) | more than 2 years ago | (#33674292)

There may be all sorts of science-y reasons why we would want to examine an 18-inch rock on mars, that I can get behind.

But naming it? Seriously? If we start naming every rock and boulder and sand dune we run across, we're going to run out of all the cool names. Then later when we land on an area with an 1800 meter meteorite, we'll have to settle for "OR XXVI" or something dull like that. Plus, think of the future - we'll have stupid historical markers and protected rover trails all over the terraformed landscape with the Historic Site of Oileán Ruaidh and the Pebbles of Aljsdfk Splksd and stupid gift t-shirts and little mini-rovers and 18-inch rock keychains for sale in stands run by the mutants who can no longer work in the mines.

I'm just saying, let's save names for the impressive things. Think of the merchandisers!

Re:Why? (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#33676928)

But naming it? Seriously? If we start naming every rock and boulder and sand dune we run across, we're going to run out of all the cool names

I suppose we can give them IP6 addresses. Got plenty of those.

Re:Why? (1)

Coren22 (1625475) | more than 2 years ago | (#33677810)

But how will we route packets to them? I suggest GUIDs. :D

Re:Why? (1)

zoso1132 (1303697) | more than 2 years ago | (#33678428)

They DO name everything they come upon. Every major rock, every corner of outcrop. You betcha. And what's the problem with naming things? Takes about, oh, I don't know, half a second. And you're worried we'll RUN OUT?

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33685484)

"But naming it? Seriously? If we start naming every rock and boulder and sand dune we run across, we're going to run out of all the cool names."

LOL. They *have* named practically every major rock and other feature along the path of the rover. "Heat Shield Rock" is a meteorite found near the jettisoned heat shield, but there must be hundreds and hundreds of rocks named after explorers, astronauts, islands, historical figures, all sorts of things. It's useful to have names as landmarks and it's more memorable than "Rock #23115".

But the other part of your comment is insightful, because it probably goes a long way to explaining why they're resorting to Gaelic now :-)

Umm... (1, Funny)

vegiVamp (518171) | more than 3 years ago | (#33673514)

That's not a meteor, that's a monolith. Kubrick got the scale wrong, apparently.

Opportunity to Earth (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33673548)

Oh my god! It is full of stars!

Bad naming scheme (2, Insightful)

Mathinker (909784) | more than 3 years ago | (#33673674)

> NASA scientists called the rock 'Oileán Ruaidh,' which is the Gaelic name for an island off the coast of northwestern Ireland

Can't NASA scientists think ahead a little bit to make the future a safer place? GPS manufacturers of the year 2437 are gonna be pissed when their customers end up on Mars while trying to fly to Ireland...

Re:Bad naming scheme (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#33673696)

The rovers have seen so many rocks they must be running out of names.

Re:Bad naming scheme (1)

Mathinker (909784) | more than 2 years ago | (#33673950)

Don't they read xkcd or use git? They should start calling the rocks by SHA1 checksums of Earth names prefixed by "Mars: ".

Actually, Charles Schultz thought of this first [wikia.com] , more or less.

Re:Bad naming scheme (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 2 years ago | (#33674004)

A smarter way would be to create anagrams of Earth names. If you want numbers just start at zero and ++ for each rock you find.

ADS on the link and Official NASA Press Release (0)

blitux (1907312) | more than 3 years ago | (#33673682)

First of all, the title of the official press release is "Mars Rover Opportunity Aproaching Possible Meteorite" (so, it's not confirmed) and this http://marsrovers.jpl.nasa.gov/newsroom/pressreleases/20100921a.html [nasa.gov] is the original NASA Press Release.

Also something "weird". This site talks about network technology, and in the middle a post about a rock on Mars. Also there's a big blocking Video Ad right in the middle when you open the link. Frustrating.

Re:ADS on the link and Official NASA Press Release (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#33673706)

I don't see the advertisements at all.

Typical (4, Funny)

The_mad_linguist (1019680) | more than 2 years ago | (#33673798)

Typical, just typical. We spend all this time and money going to an exotic location to see the sights, but once we're there you want to spend all this time looking through the imported kitsch.

Going to check out a meteorite that hit near... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#33673822)

It's an imperial probe droid!

Oilean Ruadh (1)

SMoynihan (1647997) | more than 2 years ago | (#33673824)

Apt. This means 'Red Island' in Irish, so Red Island in a Red sand sea, on a Red planet... I believe there is a slight misspelling though - this should be 'Oilean Ruadh' (no 'i' in Ruadh, though I haven't figured out how to put fadas over a's on Slashdot.)

Re:Oilean Ruadh (1)

johndiii (229824) | more than 2 years ago | (#33675626)

The best way to get a fada is to use the acute character entities from html. So á comes out as á. Similar for é (é), í (í), ó (ó), and ú (ú).

You can also use numeric character references, but that's not very portable. What works for Windows is wrong on a Mac, for instance.

It's the future (1)

jvonk (315830) | more than 2 years ago | (#33678422)

...so why are we still dealing with this shit?

You can also use numeric character references, but that's not very portable. What works for Windows is wrong on a Mac, for instance.

I thought Unicode (especially UTF-8) was intended to resolve this issue. With UTF-8 becoming nearly ubiquitous, EOL issues are a much bigger problem than character encoding.

Don't get me wrong: I wish ISO-8859 [wikipedia.org] and CP1252 [wikipedia.org] would be incinerated by a bolt of lightning from Zeus for all the issues they have caused me over the years. The divine hammer can't be dropped soon enough: even Slashdot is stuck in the early 1990's by continuing to insist on using ISO-8859-1 for the US-based site (the .jp site, at least, uses UTF-8).

HTML escaped characters are a horrible hack in every case aside from the syntax interference related ones (greater than, less than, etc).

This evolution is essential. For instance, I should be able to inject some ancient Sumerian Cuneiform characters into this message, dammit! Unicode supports me [wikipedia.org] on this!

This isn't just an idle desire for feature-creep. Sometimes I channel Ur-geeks who had to post their trolls via clay tablet in the marketplace, and dammit, they want a piece of this action. Writing something like "Your ancestors were so foolishly illiterate that they mistakenly grew flax instead of barley" just doesn't have the same punch in English as in Sumerian Cuneiform.

Re:It's the future (1)

johndiii (229824) | more than 2 years ago | (#33680452)

Hmmmm, cuneiform...

Nope, didn't work.

Cyrillic...

That either. Bummer.

Re:Oilean Ruadh (1)

johndiii (229824) | more than 2 years ago | (#33680012)

jvonk is right; this should be done in Unicode [unicode.org] :

  • Á: Á
  • á: á
  • É: É
  • é: é
  • Í: Í
  • í: í
  • Ó: Ó
  • ó: ó
  • Ú: Ú
  • ú: ú

From the Latin-1 Supplement Character Code Chart [unicode.org] .

if you kiss this rock (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 2 years ago | (#33673892)

you will be endowed with the gift of martian gab

of course, that could be just a bunch of blarney

Oileán Ruaidh? (2, Funny)

zrbyte (1666979) | more than 2 years ago | (#33674074)

Sounds like Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn to me.

Maybe the GREAT ONE lives on Mars.

Next up... (1)

autophile (640621) | more than 2 years ago | (#33674140)

The Rover makes a sword out of it!

Toaster sized? (1)

rossdee (243626) | more than 2 years ago | (#33674252)

Someone has been watching "the Brave Little Toaster goes to Mars" too many times.

Keep on chugg'n (2, Interesting)

oracle_of_power (750351) | more than 2 years ago | (#33674290)

What really is amazing is that the rovers only had a design life of 90days and they are still going after several years.

Re:Keep on chugg'n (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 2 years ago | (#33676832)

Yes, it's amazing that despite expectations Mars has enough wind to mostly blow the solar panels clean. It's not amazing at all that NASA designed every aspect of the rover as robustly as possible even with the presumption of no wind and a consequent 90-sol lifespan. It is, though, amazing what the operations team has done given the practical realities and real difficulties of operating even a robustly designed rover on freaking Mars.

3rd one opportunity has found (1)

peter303 (12292) | more than 2 years ago | (#33675250)

One earth, in very dry places, they sit out in the open too- nothing to cover them up or rust them. There is a spot in Antarctica with minimal snow accumulation and lots of meteroites just sitting there. Some sandless deserts too.

The little robot that could. (1)

dtml-try MyNick (453562) | more than 2 years ago | (#33675926)

The thing that keeps amazing me every time I read something about the mars rovers is their stamina.

Think about it, it landed in January 2004 for a 90 (ninety) day mission on the surface of mars.

As we speak it's still driving around and making new discoveries, just mindblowing.
That's 2343 days more than expected. Massive kudos to the engineers of these little wonders.

Pronouncing 'Oileán Ruaidh' (1)

BadDoggie (145310) | more than 2 years ago | (#33677950)

Since the island itself is in the northwest the Conamara (or Connemara) accent is probably the one to use, so it would be OH-lun ree. However, most Irish Gaelic speakers would pronounce it OH-lun r(ue)-ee'. Fun, huh?

Maybe it's my eyes but... (1)

Zaiff Urgulbunger (591514) | more than 2 years ago | (#33678442)

Maybe it's my eyes but isn't the picture [nasa.gov] in the linked article showing a small, squat, bird-like creature, surfing on the ocean?

Or perhaps I've not been keeping up with the latest Mars news!
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