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Opportunity Spots Curious Object On Mars

CmdrTaco posted more than 9 years ago | from the do-you-see-what-i-see dept.

Space 288

EhobaX writes "Space.com is reporting that NASA's Opportunity Mars rover has come across an interesting object -- perhaps a meteorite sitting out in the open at Meridiani Planum. Initial data taken by the robot's Mini-Thermal Emission Spectrometer (Mini-TES) is suggestive that the odd-looking "rock" is made of metal."

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288 comments

Beagle? (5, Funny)

Allen Zadr (767458) | more than 9 years ago | (#11353261)

So that is what happened to the Beagle lander [chron.com] ! They finally found it.

alien metal object (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11353307)

They found an alien metal object on MARS!!

Monolith (4, Funny)

vivin (671928) | more than 9 years ago | (#11353339)

It's the Monolith. Taa... taa... taaa...... TATAAAA!!!

Re:Monolith (4, Funny)

maxbang (598632) | more than 9 years ago | (#11353374)

Currently at NASA HQ: "Hold on, we're getting something here. All...these...worlds...are...a...fanta...don't...y ou...wanta...fanta? Fanta? What the hell is this?"

Re:Monolith (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11353468)

Next message, just in: "All your base are belong to us".

Re:Monolith (1)

mesach (191869) | more than 9 years ago | (#11353504)

Silly it's a Martian Golf ball, didn't Marvin play Tiger for the Buick Intergalactic Cup?

Re:Beagle? NO, CMDRTACO RAPES LITTLE BOYS (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11353576)

commander taco rapes little boys

story at 11

Re:Beagle? or maybe the Orbiter? (2, Insightful)

Kerhop (652872) | more than 9 years ago | (#11353581)

If it's not the Beagle, it might be the Mars Climate Orbiter [canoe.ca]

Robot Bunny? (5, Funny)

fembots (753724) | more than 9 years ago | (#11353264)

I still prefer a cute bunny [nasa.gov] over metal robot.

To make a good sci-fi story though, Opportunity might have just reached its expiry date and that'll keep everybody in suspense for a long time.

Re:Robot Bunny? (1)

actiondan (445169) | more than 9 years ago | (#11353575)

An interesting thing about that story is that it seems we've already started littering on other planets.

Shouldn't preventing pollution of the environment be quite important to missions to other planets?

By the time there are tourist trips to Mars, the place will be ruined...

Somebody loose a probe? (0, Redundant)

lecithin (745575) | more than 9 years ago | (#11353266)

I wondered if it was going to turn up.

Re:Somebody loose a probe? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11353296)

redundant? Mod nazi.

Re:Somebody loose a probe? (2, Funny)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 9 years ago | (#11353335)

My guess is that it will turn out to be This [cnn.com] .

Re:Somebody loose a probe? (1)

Anonymous Cowpat (788193) | more than 9 years ago | (#11353594)

it's interesting how, in that article they're talking about missions in the planning stage that we're just getting the results from now. Well, I find it staggering how long it takes between "let's send a probe" to "wooh, turns out the death star is in our solar system", but I suppose they have to research, design, build, test the thing and then it has to get there. It's still staggering just how long it takes though - the rovers seems state of the art, but the newest technology that could be in them is 4 years old.

Somebody need to learn english? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11353348)

I wondered if room-temperature IQs would post the obvious.

Re:Somebody need to learn english? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11353372)

And the same types reply.

Re:Somebody LOOSE a probe? (0, Troll)

HeighYew (840686) | more than 9 years ago | (#11353400)

Maybe they should've tigthened it. Then it wouldn't have been loose.

Re:Somebody LOOSE a probe? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11353538)

Maybe if we teach them this slight alteration of the WWII slogan:

"Loose lips lose ships."

People would get it. Then again, maybe not.

That's no rock... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11353275)

it's a space station!

Re:That's no rock... (2, Funny)

escher (3402) | more than 9 years ago | (#11353311)

It's to small to be a space station!... ...

I have a very bad feeling about this...

Re:That's no rock... (5, Funny)

rk (6314) | more than 9 years ago | (#11353592)

It could be a terrible miscalculation in scale. Good thing there are no small dogs on Mars.

It's a Martian Coke can. (2, Funny)

the_skywise (189793) | more than 9 years ago | (#11353276)

All that's left after the martian holocaust...

There is no Coke on Mars... (1)

Uptown Joe (819388) | more than 9 years ago | (#11353386)

Shhhh... The last thing that we need is a bunch of Crack/ Coke heads trying to get to Mars. Joe

Re:There is no Coke on Mars... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11353443)


That's one sure way to make Bush follow through on funding his Mars program...

That's so odd! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11353279)

It's... It's like a big rock but, it might be a metal rock. That's so odd. I've never seen a big rock before.

Re:That's so odd! (1, Funny)

TGK (262438) | more than 9 years ago | (#11353436)

I can't wait to tell all my friends. They don't have a rock this big.

Re:That's so odd! (1)

escher (3402) | more than 9 years ago | (#11353506)

*snorpth*

What's even more scary is I get the reference.

A real mystery. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11353283)

It's a fucking rock. Case closed Sherlock.

Re:A real mystery. (5, Informative)

Rei (128717) | more than 9 years ago | (#11353406)

This is a big deal. You don't find raw metal much on Mars; most of it is tied up with oxygen. Raw metal has many implications: if it is common, it can be a great source of base building. If the metals are rare on Earth as well, and they're common on Mars, they could provide a potential export source. If it is a meteor, and they're common, it could affect our models of how often Mars gets struck by meteors. Since the rock isn't buried, it could provide clues as to how long it's been on Mars, how fast Meridiani Planum is eroding, and give us dataon how metals wear over time on Mars.

Any time you find something you've never found before, it's a big deal. Honestly, to people who've been following the mission, it looked like Opportunity was pretty much wrapping things up. It just left a geological treasure trove and there isn't much more "on the map", so to speak. It's neat to see it continue making nice finds.

Re:A real mystery. (2, Interesting)

Rei (128717) | more than 9 years ago | (#11353450)

I should also add that raw metal is very easy to mine. In fact, one proposal for lunar construction involves simply shipping up magnets and a machine that churns up regolith, since a small but significant percentage of lunar regolith is pure iron in powder form. Pure iron powder allows for powder metallurgy - while it's not quite as strong as cast iron (not that you need such strength on the moon), you can make almost any shape with it, with a high degree of detail, safety, low energy input, simple tools, and good speed.

Re:A real mystery. (3, Insightful)

Penguinshit (591885) | more than 9 years ago | (#11353495)


The best part of the story is it seems that both the rovers will be continuing on for quite some time. Talk about a huge vat of gravy for this mission. It's really nice to see our taxpayer dollars repaid so handsomely.

With the initial "water" find complete, these little critters are free to give us so much more information about Mars than we could have gotten with 50 Viking probes or any manner of orbiting system.

sounds familiar (5, Funny)

PhilipOfOregon (771069) | more than 9 years ago | (#11353285)

Wait -- I've seen this movie! DON'T GO LOOK AT IT!

Re:sounds familiar (1)

EnronHaliburton2004 (815366) | more than 9 years ago | (#11353544)

DON'T GO LOOK AT IT!

Look Denise, if you don't want to go look at it, fine. You just stay here. I'm going to look at it.

But first, here, wear my sports jacket, the sun is going down and it's going to get cold.

(walks away...)
(Turns around, and says reassuingly)

Don't worry, I'll be riiight back!

To boldy go... (5, Funny)

cosinezero (833532) | more than 9 years ago | (#11353295)

If we tell GWB it's a WMD, maybe we'll finally get a real space program...

Re:To boldy go... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11353565)

Yeah, great plan, until they blow up Mars.

(Posted anonymously because I'd mod it down if I saw it too)

a rotten brain (1)

virtualone (768392) | more than 9 years ago | (#11353299)

i would say it is a rotton brain from one of the mars-robot-aliens. this will make a great plot for a trash movie.

finally (5, Funny)

Dark Demon (575498) | more than 9 years ago | (#11353306)

Jimmy Hoffa has been found...

don't take any chances (1, Flamebait)

wh173b0y (825454) | more than 9 years ago | (#11353309)

shoot now, ask questions later.

Re:don't take any chances (1)

cosinezero (833532) | more than 9 years ago | (#11353342)

Considering the only weapon we've got on those rovers is the RAT... it's more like mildly irritate now, ask questions MUCH later...

Re:don't take any chances (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11353446)

pussy

Good Advice: +1, Patriotic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11353488)


From the world's most dangerous and inarticulate "leader" [whitehouse.org]

Regards,
K. Trout, CTO

Re:don't take any chances (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11353491)

How many times do I have to say this??

Han shot first!!

Oh, sorry, you were talking about some other shooting incident?

Illudium pew-36 explosive space modulator? (5, Funny)

Alien Being (18488) | more than 9 years ago | (#11353312)

Be careful with the abrasion tool or there could be an earth-shattering kaboom.

Re:Illudium pew-36 explosive space modulator? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11353409)

Mocking me will make me very angry indeed, Earth creature.

Re:Illudium pew-36 explosive space modulator? (1)

MrP-(at work) (839979) | more than 9 years ago | (#11353454)

Oh god why did you have to make that reference? Now there will be a large flamewar about what the correct wording is. It happens EVERY time ::gets the marshmellows::

Could it be the remains of predecessor or itself? (2, Insightful)

solafide (845228) | more than 9 years ago | (#11353314)

Is it a old rover, or a chunk of itself? Surely there is something it descards as it falls? But anyway, we could mine Mars or make stronger alloys with the different atmosphere! Perhaps Mars has gold or platinium hidden? Never know.

Of course, that is why they are there!

Billy

It's SCO's list of Linux's infringing source code (1)

bigtallmofo (695287) | more than 9 years ago | (#11353315)

When Darl originally came from Mars, he accidentally left his list of source code that violates SCO's IP there.

Now that NASA has found it, his case can finally proceed.

Re:It's SCO's list of Linux's infringing source co (1)

R33MSpec (631206) | more than 9 years ago | (#11353529)

It's been a long time since someone posted a joke about SCO. I applaud thee loudly.

Re:It's SCO's list of Linux's infringing source co (1)

Curtman (556920) | more than 9 years ago | (#11353570)

Haha, so that's where Blepp's Briefcase [com.com] went.

Meteorite? (3, Interesting)

HeighYew (840686) | more than 9 years ago | (#11353316)

I would think that a meteorite would've been buried in the sand instead of sitting on top of it...

Re:Meteorite? (4, Insightful)

Stevyn (691306) | more than 9 years ago | (#11353360)

Maybe it was. It could have come down very shallow and not made a deep impact. Then strong winds could have blown the sand around it to uncover it. If it is made of metal, then it's probably too heavy for the winds to move it much. The wavy patterns in the sand around it make me think the area gets some wind.

I'm just guessing, of course, but it's a possibility.

Re:Meteorite? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11353396)

Erosion, you moron.

Re:Meteorite? (1)

David Horn (772985) | more than 9 years ago | (#11353449)

There is a thing on Mars called the wind. Suppose it was buried thousands of years ago and only recently got cleared? I, however, favour the Beagle 2 theory....

Finally, they found my pet rock. (5, Funny)

LemonFire (514342) | more than 9 years ago | (#11353318)

I always wondered what happened to it.

-- I discovered this SIG in the lost and found department.

Meteorite with no crater? (3, Interesting)

schon (31600) | more than 9 years ago | (#11353319)

OK, so speculation is that it's a meteorite - OK, but this was found on a large plain.. what are the odds that a meteor could hit a planet and not leave a crater? Wouldn't the gravity of Mars cause it to increase velocity?

Anyone with more knowledge of meteor physics than me have an explanation?

Re:Meteorite with no crater? (1)

Jonny Cat (741543) | more than 9 years ago | (#11353346)

prehaps it rolled/bounced to a stop some time ago, and the trail was shallow enough to be blown away?

Re:Meteorite with no crater? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11353367)

It could land, make a crater, and then the crater fills with sand in the first martian windstorm.

Or the same martians who are cleaning the solar panels could be doing some landscaping.

Re:Meteorite with no crater? (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 9 years ago | (#11353369)

It could have broken off during the impact of another meteorite that DID cause a crater when it struck, thereby bleeding off enough energy to land on the martian surface without digging in. Bare in mind that this is pure speculation :)

Re:Meteorite with no crater? (3, Insightful)

RobertB-DC (622190) | more than 9 years ago | (#11353376)

OK, so speculation is that it's a meteorite - OK, but this was found on a large plain.. what are the odds that a meteor could hit a planet and not leave a crater? Wouldn't the gravity of Mars cause it to increase velocity?

One scenario is that the rock hit Mars a gazillion years ago. Wind storms filled the area with Mars dust. Over the eons, the weather patterns changed, and now the wind storms are blowing the dust out of the area... uncovering the rock.

Though the thing sure looks a lot like a dehydrated Martian to me. Just add water!

Re:Meteorite with no crater? (2, Interesting)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 9 years ago | (#11353394)

If it was small enough it could land withoout much of a crater. At least here on earth most small meteors manage to land with out a huge impact crater.

Re:Meteorite with no crater? (3, Interesting)

DrXym (126579) | more than 9 years ago | (#11353526)

Maybe it hit water in some previous age and sunk to the bottom?

Re:Meteorite with no crater? (1)

nizo (81281) | more than 9 years ago | (#11353555)

With all the hooplah last year about the mars meteorite that was found on earth, it would be ironic if this is a meteorite from earth.

Maybe it did leave a crater. (4, Insightful)

i41Overlord (829913) | more than 9 years ago | (#11353580)

Maybe the rock did leave a crater in the sand millions of years ago, and the crater got blown away by the wind, leaving the heavy rock sitting there.

Things can sit on the surface forever there. It's not like there's anyone there to say "ooh, this is shiny!" and disturb it. That's a human thing... (although now that human scientists sent a rover to Mars, they're saying "ooh, that rock is shiny!" and disturbing it)

Around the room reactions ... (4, Funny)

WankersRevenge (452399) | more than 9 years ago | (#11353320)

Project leader Kenobi: it's not a rock. It's a space station

Data Analyst Rimmer: Aliens!

Computer Programmer Neo: Woaaah

Re:Around the room reactions ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11353388)

I've never not laughed so hard in my life...

Re:Around the room reactions ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11353426)

B52 Pilot Schneider: "It wasn't a rock, it was a rock lobster!"

Mercurian Space Traveler Alfred: "We will, we will..."

Philosopher: "It is not the rock that is on the surface of mars, but Mars on the surface of the rock"

Sisyphus: "Funny thing happened the other day, I was rolling this rock up a hill when I saw a shiny remote controlled car driving my way and I was like 'holy crap!!!' so I let go of the rock and got the heck out of there."

Neo: Wild Stalions!!!! (1)

Uptown Joe (819388) | more than 9 years ago | (#11353431)

totally bogus..

Re:Around the room reactions ... (2, Insightful)

5n3ak3rp1mp (305814) | more than 9 years ago | (#11353435)

Any reference to Red Dwarf [tvtome.com] is priceless. Smeghead!

Re:Around the room reactions ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11353549)

I bet it isn't aliens, I bet it's a trash pod.

Word of caution: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11353321)

Whatever you do, don't send out a well-rounded team of intrepid astronauts on a routine reconnaisance mission.

Re:Word of caution: (1)

cosinezero (833532) | more than 9 years ago | (#11353375)

Depends; does the affleck die in the end or in the beginning? INQUIRING MINDS WANT TO KNOW.

There's gold in them there hills.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11353323)

Looks like a big nugget to me.. I wonder how many commercial flights there would be to mars if they found it was loaded with gold?

Obvious. (3, Funny)

Aaron England (681534) | more than 9 years ago | (#11353332)

Charateristic topology, metal composition, scorched surroundings; clearly Mars is giving birth.

Of course! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11353333)

Did you see? there are WMDs in Mars too!
Profit!

If this were a movie... (1)

myside (679429) | more than 9 years ago | (#11353341)

It would be time to queue the spooky music.

That's not a rock... (3, Funny)

Tebriel (192168) | more than 9 years ago | (#11353343)

it's a Starbucks. They really ARE everywhere.

Gold Rush (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11353344)

Thar be gold in them thar hills!

Does it have an end that screws out? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11353349)

"The cylinder was artificial--hollow--with an end that screwed out! Something within the cylinder was unscrewing the top!"

--H. G. Wells, "The War of the Worlds"

Huh? (5, Funny)

Richie1984 (841487) | more than 9 years ago | (#11353351)

I stress that this is very preliminary!

Did this guy think that by saying that he would somehow prevent half of the internet preparing some crackpot theory within 5 seconds of reading it? :)

Personally, I'll wait before jumping to conclusions, and look forward to reading the followup!

Re:Huh? (1)

0racle (667029) | more than 9 years ago | (#11353542)

NASA likes those, it gives them a laugh. On the other hand, maybe the theories are right and NASA gets to sit back and be amazed at how many people they pulled one over on.

Metallic object? (1)

lindsley (194412) | more than 9 years ago | (#11353355)

Um, it's not obelisk shaped, is it?

I thought this was supposed to be on a Jovian moon ....

Re:Metallic object? (1)

Ashe Tyrael (697937) | more than 9 years ago | (#11353384)

My god. It's full of Darls.

Genius! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11353356)

Step 1: Find big alien rock on Mars.
Step 2: ...
Step 3: Profit!

Gigantic Hanta Virus? (1)

FSGeek (645649) | more than 9 years ago | (#11353368)

Touch it, I dare ya.

Golf Ball (1)

kd5ujz (640580) | more than 9 years ago | (#11353390)

Looks like ET's titlist he lost on the back 9.

What was their first reaction? (4, Interesting)

RobertB-DC (622190) | more than 9 years ago | (#11353440)

So the NASA team has been poking around the planet for more than a(n Earth) year [slashdot.org] , right? Most of the surprises happened months ago... now it's just a matter of finding something to do until the batteries quit holding their charge. Looking at the heat shield [nasa.gov] doesn't seem like a very revealing bit of science -- more of a "gee look how far we've come" sort of cool thing.

Then they get a picture of a big freaking rock with a bunch of wierd holes, sitting there in the middle of a windblown plain. Not covered in dust like everything else... even the wind patterns in the dust around it look new.

What do you think the first guy to get that picture said when he looked, and then looked again, and realized that this wasn't going to be just another day on Mars?

Re:What was their first reaction? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11353546)

Actually, the Heat Shield WAS important.

Designing re-entry shields for planets you don't know alot about ( compared to earth ) can be tricky. Undoubtably they overengineered it, and made it heavier than needed just in case.

By examining the heat shield, and the thermal damage, they can get a better feel for the physical and thermal stresses caused by a martian re entry.

This would lead to lighter, better heat shields. And since cost is proportional to weight, a lighter more effective heat shield leads to cheaper future mars missions, or allows one to cram more instruments into a probe. Either way, WIN!

They are tooling around a planet we still know little about, so it's all good.

Are you tired (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11353457)

Have you been wrestling bears?

Mini-TES (4, Informative)

A Boy and His Blob (772370) | more than 9 years ago | (#11353460)

For those of you who don't know what TES (Thermal Emission Spectrometer) is, here [asu.edu] is some more information. The webpage is quite interesting.

But what is this? (2, Interesting)

mowler2 (301294) | more than 9 years ago | (#11353477)

But what is this [lyle.org] , that is next to the rock?

Is it the heat shield?

HHGG (1)

Turn-X Alphonse (789240) | more than 9 years ago | (#11353502)

It's a large metal dome like object... on a featureless landscape..... it's got to be the restraunt at the end of the universe! We're all doom!

Barriers to private Mars rovers based on MERs? (1)

FleaPlus (6935) | more than 9 years ago | (#11353505)

According to Wikipedia, "the total cost of building, launching, landing and operating the rovers on the surface for the initial 90 day primary mission was about US $820 million." Presumably, this means that constructing and launching a new rover based on the old designs could conceivably done for a few hundred million dollars. This places it well within the realm of billionaire space enthusiasts and companies looking for creative advertising opportunities. As an example, Procter Gamble has an annual ad budget of $4.5 billion and Microsoft has an annual ad budget of almost $2 billion. Being the first company to launch a planetary rover and having your name associated with all the discoveries the rover makes seems quite lucrative from an advertising perspective.

Is it possible/legal for someone to just contract or partner with the JPL to build and operate a rover for them, perhaps using alternative launch sources to further lower the cost? My suspicion is no, due to JPL being a quasi-governmental organization. Barring the above possibility, are there any mechanisms in place for technology transfer to a private organization which -would- be able to contract with non-government parties?

Do Not Taunt Happy Fun Ball (1)

valhallaprime (749304) | more than 9 years ago | (#11353517)

Nasa now has their new cash crop...if only they can get it back to earth. Seriously, this sounds like a bad sci-fi reality show. So i say, let the NASA Survivor begin.... 16 Engineers....One Space Station....450 Amazing X10 cameras throughout....Who will be left at the end of the season to take the single-seat escape pod to earth, which has presumably NOT become a secret micro-eggsack lair of the Happy Fun Ball. Tune in next week for Guest Star/Guest Victim Paul Reiser....

We found a large metal object? (1)

Carnage Pants (801975) | more than 9 years ago | (#11353531)

Figures, since I'm suddenly realizing this thigh bone can be used as a club...

I've got it (2, Funny)

kin_korn_karn (466864) | more than 9 years ago | (#11353556)

it's a Martian coprolite! Now we can tell what they ate!

+3 funny (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11353569)

I know Amelia Earhart got a little off course, but how did she get her plane way up there? Well, at least we can rest assured that she's no longer considered missing.

No, No... (1)

RalphBinaca (703952) | more than 9 years ago | (#11353579)

You guys got it all wrong.... it's martian poop.

Don't poke those instruments in it!! ;-)

Gold... (1)

Sophrosyne (630428) | more than 9 years ago | (#11353585)

Get your bags packed... this is going to make the old Gold Rush look like a walk in the park.
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