The American Opportunity rover on Mars has found an unusual stone. For the first time this stone caught the "eyes" of the robot at the end of December, when the car approached the remains of the thermal shield.
An object the size of a potato, ground controllers drew attention because of its unusual pitted surface. "From the beginning we have seen not so many rocks on the plain, — the mission chief scientist Stephen Squires (Steven Squyres). — And we thought that they were — small pieces of Martian basalt."
However, an infrared spectrometer Opportunity called Mini-TES has shown that the facility does not emit heat energy at frequencies expected from the "typical" Martian rocks, so scientists have hypothesized — it could be a meteorite rich in metal, for example — iron and nickel.
Rover continued examination of stone, and the results are expected early this week. By the way, on January 25 will mark the robot on the surface of the Red Planet's first "birthday."