Mars Rock Takes Unusual Form

On Mars, as on Earth, sometimes things can take on an unusual appearance. A case in point is a shiny-looking rock seen in a recent image from NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover.

Some casual observers might see a resemblance to a car door handle, hood ornament or some other type of metallic object. To Ronald Sletten of the University of Washington, Seattle, a collaborator on Curiosity’s science team, the object is an interesting study in how wind and the natural elements cause erosion and other effects on various types of rocks.

A shiny-looking Martian rock is visible in this image taken by NASA's Mars rover Curiosity's Mast Camera (Mastcam) during the mission's 173rd Martian day, or sol (Jan. 30, 2013). Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Malin Space Science Systems (Click image to enlarge)

A shiny-looking Martian rock is visible in this image taken by NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity’s Mast Camera (Mastcam) during the mission’s 173rd Martian day, or sol (Jan. 30, 2013). Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Malin Space Science Systems (Click image to enlarge)

Find out what likely caused the shiny appearance of the Martian rock, and see some examples of similar phenomena found on Earth. A PDF of the images and explanatory text is available at: https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/images/msl/20130211/ventifacts.pdf .

*Source: NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory

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