A meteorite’s tale…

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A lot of fuss is being made of the news that Curiosity has found a meteorite on Mars. Regular readers of this blog will know that there’s nothing too unusual about that, of course – during her wanders across Meridiani, Opportunity has found enough of them to fill a museum display case!

But  just think about it for a moment… As was the case with all Oppy’s fallen star stones, this meteorite, a piece of solar system debris billions of years old, circled the Sun for all that time until its path intersected Mars’, then, with the whole of Mars available, it plunged through the atmosphere to land on the planet’s surface right in a crater which would, one day, countless millennia later, be visited by a nuclear-powered robot from Earth. And, purely by chance, it landed smack in the path of that robot as it trundled across the crater floor, close enough for the rover to photograph it as it drove past. Look closely at the meteorite and you’ll see six little white dots on its shiny surface…

spots

These are the pinpoint marks of the rover’s laser beam, which flashed across the meteorite to study it after it had stood there on the surface of Mars for an incredible number of years…

One chunk of metal on Mars, probably not very different to thousands of others scattered across Barsoom, but this one was in the right place at the right time for us to find it. One day in the future it will probably be picked up by a scientist – or tourist – following Curiosity’s path across the floor of Gusev crater, dropped in a pouch and brought back to the Mars base, to be shown to people there, then either put on display at the base or sent back to Earth, for display in a museum there or sold to a collector.

What an incredible journey that little chunk of metal is on…

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