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Mars Exploration Rover Discovers Strange Rocks ... Mars Exploration Rover: Opportunity discovers strange rocks on the surface of Mars. Six years after landing on Mars, NASA rover Opportunity keeps trekking along. Her most recent find -- a basketball-sized rock -- may harbor clues about the planet's interior. --- Please SUBSCRIBE to Science & Reason: • • • --- Rover Gives NASA an "Opportunity" to View Interior of Mars PASADENA, Calif. -- NASA's Mars exploration rover Opportunity is allowing scientists to get a glimpse deep inside Mars. Perched on a rippled Martian plain, a dark rock not much bigger than a basketball was the target of interest for Opportunity during the past two months. Dubbed "Marquette Island," the rock is providing a better understanding of the mineral and chemical makeup of the Martian interior. "Marquette Island is different in composition and character from any known rock on Mars or meteorite from Mars," said Steve Squyres of Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y. Squyres is principal investigator for Opportunity and its twin, Spirit. "It is one of the coolest things Opportunity has found in a very long time." During six years of roving, Opportunity has found only one other rock of comparable size that scientists conclude was ejected from a distant crater. The rover studied the first such rock during its initial three-month mission. Called "Bounce Rock," that rock closely matched the composition of a meteorite from Mars found on Earth. Marquette Island is a coarse-grained rock with a basalt composition. The coarseness indicates it cooled slowly from molten rock, allowing crystals time to grow. This composition suggests to geologists that it originated deep in the crust, not at the surface where it would cool quicker and have finer-grained texture. • Learn more: --- The Mars Exploration Rovers act as robot geologists while they are on the surface of Mars. You can explore the various parts of the rover by clicking on the image to the left. In some senses, the rovers? parts are similar to what any living creature would need to keep it "alive" and able to explore. • .
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