Oppy has spotted something lying on the ground up ahead…
Hmmm… wonder what it is? A rock? Another meteorite?
Another meteorite… that would be nice, we’ve not come across one of those for a while!
If it is a meteorite, there will be more than a few people wanting Oppy to just drive right past it, taking a few pictures as it passes it without stopping. Many people see stops to study rocks and meteorites found en-route to Endeavour as unnecessary detours, mere distractions from the goal of reaching the rim of the great crater. But I don’t see it that way. I think that Oppy should interrupt her epic journey to take a closer look at these rocks and star-stones she finds plonked in front of her.
Why? Why am I such a meteorite-hugger?
Well. Think about it.
There’s a big lump of… something… up ahead. It’s on the way to our destination, just sitting there, like celestial roadkill, right in our path. The question is, what IS it? If it’s “just a rock”, well, that’s interesting, and exciting, because that rock isn’t from these parts; it didn’t come up from beneath the surface, it fell here after falling out of the sky, having come from somewhere else entirely, a piece of ejecta from a distant impact, so studying it gives Oppy a chance to examine a piece of Mars that could be hundreds if not thousands of kilometres away from where she is now. Maybe it’s a piece of Endeavour? Ooohhh… here’s a thought… maybe it’s a piece of the far crater rim, blasted out when that crater was blasted out of the farside slope?
But if it’s a meteorite, where is it from? Is it a run-of-the-mill stone or iron from the asteroid belt, or something more exotic? A piece of Venus? A piece of Earth? Maybe. Maybe not. Probably not. But wherever it’s from, the question is, how long has it sat out on the plain? How has it been shaped and carved by the martian weather? What can it tell us? What fascinating geological stories is it waiting to whisper into our ears?
Come on, everyone… Answering these questions, even just a couple of them, is worth a slight detour and a look-see for a couple of sols.
Oppy’s a rover, yes, but her middle, less-frequently-used name is “Exploration”. Scooting across Meridiani is great. But we can afford to explore a bit inbetween scoots.
I reckon we’ll see this mystery object more cleary over the next couple of days. Check back to see them here.