While the unusual “bubbles” have attracted a lot of attention, there are some other interesting surface features that the Curiosity science team has also been looking at recently. This region of Yellowknife Bay inside Gale crater appears to have a rich geological history, with many little puzzles for scientists to piece together. Some of the best examples so far are shown here.
Many of the rocks in this area have patches of some kind of bright material on them. A close-up view of one of them shows a mottled-looking “crust” on the rock. What is it made? How did it form?
A translucent-appearing object embedded in another rock has prompted a lot of discussion as well. Some people have referred to it as a “flower” although it looks more like some kind of bright mineral, perhaps quartz? Is it related to the other bright patches? Or could it be another piece of plastic from the rover itself, similar to one seen previously? Probably not, since Guy Webster, NASA spokesman for Mars missions, has confirmed that it is apparently embedded in the rock and is not a piece of debris from the rover.
Martian rocks are also often worn by wind and sand into a wide variety of interesting, sometimes bizarre-looking shapes. The last image is a nice example, of a rock with a long, thin “tail.”
Curiosity is now almost ready to do its first drilling into a rock within the next few days or so; the analysis results should be interesting!