Bizarre smooth metallic meteorite spotted by Mars rover (PHOTOS)

© JPL-Caltech / MSSS
NASA’S Mars Curiosity rover has found a miniscule metallic meteorite, dubbed the ‘Egg Rock’, on the surface of the red planet.

The snap of the peculiar space rock was captured by Curiosity on October 31 and shared by scientists at Arizona State University, who are working with NASA.   

It’s believed the meteorite consists of nickel iron, according to the researchers who analyzed the images taken via the ChemCam Remote Micro-Imager device.

© JPL-Caltech / LANL

The smoothness of its surface and its deep grooves suggest the meteorite became molten as it entered Mars’ atmosphere before then hardening again on hitting the planet’s surface.

Mars’ close vicinity to the asteroid belt coupled with a thin atmosphere which provides less friction for incoming space rocks means it’s not uncommon to find meteorites on the planet.

Curiosity’s predecessor the Spirit Rover found a number of meteorites during its Mars mission, while Curiosity found its first iron meteorite, named Lebanon, two years ago.

Lebanon measured about 2 meters (6.5ft) wide, significantly larger than the ‘Egg Rock’.

NASA said in a statement at the time that iron meteorites dominated the type of space rocks found on Mars.

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“Part of the explanation could come from the resistance of iron meteorites to erosion processes on Mars,” the space agency explained.

Curiosity landed on the red planet in 2012 on a mission to determine whether Mars was ever capable of supporting microbial life. The rover is currently on route to the base of the planet’s Mount Sharp peak.