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This image shows shows a Martian rock outcrop near the landing site of the rover Curiosity thought to be the site of an ancient streambed, next to similar rocks shown on earth.

., NASA via AP

Mars rover's peek at rock turns up a curiosity

  • Article by: The Associated Press
  • Associated Press
  • October 11, 2012 - 4:28 PM

WASHINGTON - The first rock nuzzled by NASA's Mars Curiosity rover is turning out to be a bit more unusual than scientists thought it would be.

Curiosity used its robot arm to touch at a football-sized pyramid-shaped rock for the first time two weeks ago. It also shot the rock dozens of times with a laser.

The results surprised scientists. They said Thursday that it is not like other rocks seen on Mars. It has more sodium and potassium.

Scientist Edward Stolper  said the rock is more like rare volcanic rocks seen on Earth in places like Hawaii. Those rocks are formed under high pressure, deep underground and once contained water.

Scientists don't know how old the Martian rock is.

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Mission page: http://www.nasa.gov/msl

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