My colleague noticed something strange in the latest set of images from NASA’s Mars rover: It appears that a round boulder is carefully balanced over a jagged outcrop. How did that get there?
The photo was taken in the Jezero Crater to the right of the Perseverance Mastkam-Z On SOL 466, corresponding to June 12, here on Earth.
I emailed NASA to inquire what the rock is and if there is anything really weird here. James Rice, a geologist on the Mastcam-Z team from Arizona State University’s School of Earth and Space Exploration, wrote to me:
Balancing rocks (sometimes called unstable balanced rocks (PBRs)) of various sizes, ranging from small boulders (inches) to formations hundreds of feet high, occur naturally and aren’t really unusual. Balance rocks are often actually attached to the larger base rock by a stem or base. The Martian balance rock shown in the Rockytop outcrop was found near the base of the delta, and was likely formed after extensive winds (winds) and/or chemical erosion carved out of the local rocks.
These kinds of features are more than just a geological curiosity; In fact they have been called “reverse seismometers” because the presence of PBRs makes it possible to measure earthquakes/swamps that did not occur. If these rocks are still in balance, this means that the Earth has not moved enough to bring them down. So we can use these features to learn about the seismic history of the area.
Ah yes, PBR is a classic. Glad this was clarified!
At about the same time this image was taken, the Perseverance rover got a photo of a shiny piece of material tucked into some rock, which NASA believes could be a piece of the rover’s thermal blanket from its 2021 landing. NASA chirp The rover landed within 2 kilometers (1.25 mi) of where the remains of the blanket were found, but indicates that it could have been moved by the wind or landed there alone.
we get Strange pictures from Mars All along, we saw rocks that looked like squirrels and spoons entrances, and more. Our eyes play tricks on us, and this is especially true when watching an exotic landscape filled with both familiar and unfamiliar sights. We see 2D representations of a 3D world, so these optical illusions are bound to occur.
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