NASA’s Curiosity rover landed on Mars way back in 2012, and it’s still rolling around, capturing new images all the time. At the end of February, the little rover spotted a tiny ‘flower’ on the martian planet roughly the size of a penny.
While this isn’t an actual flower and more of a flower-shaped mineral deposit, it’s still an exciting discovery. According to NASA, it looks like a small coral or sponge and is likely a branching rock formed when the planet was still covered with water long ago.
Curiosity snapped an image of the little rock pile on February 24 or 25th using the Mars Hand Lens Imager, a camera located on the end of its robotic arm. It’s located near Aeolis Mons, also known as Mount Sharp, near the center of the 96-mile-wide Gale Crater, where Curiosity has spent countless years roaming the surface.
NASA says the crater could once have been a lake, and all the moisture would help form these odd formations and flower-like deposits. Some of NASA’s other exploratory devices have captured similar interesting images, such as these blueberry-shaped rocks in 2004.
Curiosity has taken many photos on its long journey, shaping our understanding of what Mars’ surface looks like. For those wondering, Curiosity is nearing the end of its journey and has roamed the red planet for roughly ten years so far. Unfortunately, scientists say that its nuclear power system was only meant to last 14 years, so we’re not sure how many more photos we’ll get like this last one.
That’s okay though because Perseverance Rover is there to keep exploring.
via Live Science