back to article NASA melts mysterious 'metal Martian flower' myth

On Friday the internet was all a-flutter over a mysterious metallic-looking object that the Mars rover Curiosity snapped last month, but an analysis by NASA claims to have identified how it came to be. Curiosity snapped the picture in January using its MastCam camera mounted on the top of the rover, but the image only came to …

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  1. Zaphod.Beeblebrox
    Alien

    "this could always be cunning PR plan to hide the fact that there are Martians on the surface with whom NASA has done a deal to keep quiet about"

    Please don't encourage them, they are nutty enough on their own!

    1. An0n C0w4rd

      Who?

      The Martians or NASA?

      1. Thomas 4

        Re: Who?

        amanfrommars1, obviously.

        1. Erwin Hofmann
          Thumb Up

          Re: Who?

          ... it's clearly the handle of a hatch ...

  2. Mike Brown

    But still they come

    OOOOOOOlah!!

    1. FartingHippo
      Thumb Up

      Re: But still they come

      Richard Burton's voice-over on that is fabutastic.

      I was delighted to find it on Spotify a couple of months ago, and spent a very happy afternoon listening to it at work.

  3. Mr_Pitiful
    Happy

    The chances of anything coming from mars.....

    Are a million to one he said!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The chances of anything coming from mars.....

      Still might be better than Horse meat!

    2. Frumious Bandersnatch

      Re: The chances of anything coming from mars.....

      Yeah, but the chance of winning the lottery is significantly worse than 1 million to one (and still they played...), and yet every other week you hear about someone winning it! Time to panic!!!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The chances of anything coming from mars.....

        Difference being it's a 1 million to 1 chance of you winning, with several million people playing it's nearly garunteed one will win the lottery.

        With an alien, it's a 1 in a million chance one will make it to earth, if they exist at all.

        Effectively somebody winning the lottery is a million to a million.

    3. Pat 4

      Re: The chances of anything coming from mars.....

      Oh my! Are they EXACTLY a million to one???

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The chances of anything coming from mars.....

        Horse meat is delicious.

        1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

          Re: The chances of anything coming from mars.....

          > Horse meat is delicious.

          But you need to add a martian garlic sauce.

      2. Kane Silver badge
        Go

        Re: @Pat 4

        which we all know, million-to-one chances usually pop up nine times out of ten.

  4. Subtilior
    Black Helicopters

    How does one compare the complexity of a given explanation, though? Surely I could claim that the conspiracy explanation was simpler than the idea that NASA had gone to the hassle of sending a robot all the way to Mars.

    1. jubtastic1
      Holmes

      I think NASA wants the conspiricy nutters

      Based upon the fact that the PDF they put out to explain this feature doesn't contain a single image comparable with the shot from mars, whilst a google image search for 'ventifact' returns a shitload of images that make the martian one look lame.

      Maybe there's more funding for exploring mysterious places than boring ones.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        Re: I think NASA wants the conspiricy nutters

        Get out of here Stalker!

  5. AndrueC Silver badge
    Holmes

    But as is so often the case in life, the simplest explanation is most likely the correct one

    Otherwise known as Occam's Razor. My favourite aphorism.

    1. Evil Auditor
      Trollface

      "...the simplest explanation is most likely the correct one"

      So, it's in the Arizona desert after all?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Oh, come on NASA!!

    Why don't you just admit that somebody left behind a piece of Apollo 11 when they refurbished the Apollo soundstage for the Curiousity mission!! :)

    (Or maybe that was my tinfoil hat. It has gone missing lately, though I expect that it was taken by the race of super-intelligent monkeys left over from army biological warfare experiments.)

    1. TeeCee Gold badge
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Oh, come on NASA!!

      OMFG! They faked the moon landings on Mars?!!???

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Metal Martian Flower

    I saw them play at the Fillmore back in '68.

  8. The Man Who Fell To Earth Silver badge
    Alien

    I, for one,

    welcome our new Ventifact overlords.

  9. Katie Saucey
    Alien

    Martian Flower eh?

    Someone's been hard into the "Altered Carbon" series I think.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not wanting to sound like one of the "nuts", but this looks a hell of a lot more interesting than what they are currently doing. Maybe it's me, but....they scooped up some dirt, did an analysis, and had a historic breakthrough (their words, not mine).

    They recently drilled a hole in a rock......and got excited.

    I'm not a scientist, know nothing about why they pick one (what seems to be boring) thing to focus on while ignoring other more interesting finds, but.... they are there to study things like this. At least try and analyze what the different types of rocks are, or point the camera at it for longer periods of time to determine how large it is....shed a little more light than guessing what it probably is while pointing at a hole saying "Wow!, look at this hole!"

    It's our tax dollars, and I'm not saying since we paid for it we get to drive, but a little more time looking at curiosities might make us feel better after the tax man has come and gone.

    1. Charles Manning

      Keep it in the news

      There is certainly some sense in throwing these curiosities to the press to keep the program in the news and thereby prop up funding.

      No doubt there is much going on behind the scenes that fails to interest the common man and therefore does not get into the media.

      These formations happen when one type of rock (typically igneous) exists in another type of rock. On earth it is common to find these where igneous (volcanic) rock is forced through sedimentary rocks.

  11. Chris 171

    So vape it then...

    If it really is just a bit of rock...

    Don't buy it myself, at least go for a closer sniff... might save drilling holes, you never know.

  12. GBL Initialiser

    It's a million to one chance

    But they might just walk.

  13. Gert Selkobi
    Thumb Up

    It's obvious.

    It is blatantly the tap of a stop-cock. This is proof that there was once semi-intelligent life, similar to human kind, on Mars. They've even put it in what seems to be a particularly daft place, which just re-enforces that notion that we may be descended from Martians.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It's obvious.

      which just re-enforces that notion that we may be descended from Martians.

      Probably the best explanation of UK plumbing ever written..

    2. Martin Budden Silver badge

      Re: It's obvious.

      It would explain why there is no surface water: the tap is off and the plug has been pulled out. The rover has found the tap, now where is the plughole?

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ummmm....why not just drive over an analyse it?

    After all, what was the point of sending a super high-tech rover to Mars if not to look at interesting and unusual things?

    1. Christoph

      Re: Ummmm....why not just drive over an analyse it?

      It was found on an old photo, so they may be some distance away by now. They reckon they know what caused it, so it's not particularly interesting or unusual. They may have decided that it's not worth spending limited rover lifespan in going back to look at it.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
        Alien

        Re: Ummmm....why not just drive over an analyse it?

        It's all very convenient.

        Whistling past the graveyard, moi?

  15. Robert Forsyth
    Alien

    Or lightning strike

    http://www.weirdtwist.com/2012/11/2-glass-sculptures-from-lightning.html

  16. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Some people (NASA) just have no soul.

    1. Will Godfrey Silver badge

      WTF

      ... and some people apparently have no sense of humour!

  17. This post has been deleted by its author

  18. tempemeaty
    Mushroom

    We know it's a rock NASA, that's not the questio

    The question is what kind and what is it's composition. Anything this different from the surrounding landscape with it's apparent color brilliance makes one wonder if it's a new mineral /gemstone and what kind.

    If this is a "gemstone" it could have a mineral composition that is different than any on earth. If it doesn't then we still learn something, how much Mars has a mineral composition like earth. They have a laser for this kind of thing, why avoid it's use here? Either way NASAs' cut and run behavior has become an aggravating exerciser in avoidance of opportunities for possible new discoveries.

    If NASA is going to "proclaim" this shiny rock is nothing to look at and run the other way rather than "Test" it, then I have to ask if NASA practices science anymore.

  19. This post has been deleted by its author

  20. Jim Birch
    Alien

    There's actually a good succinct Wikipedia page on ventifacts but it's good to see ER keeping up the fight against Wikipedia by linking to an weird amateur page on Long Island ventifcacts complete with a snap of the teenage web page "designer" doing the double thumbs up. The artists impression of a woolly mammoth pasted on an out of focus pic of some ice and glacial moraine adds to the effect.

    Right On!

  21. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
    Holmes

    "using its MastCam camera mounted on the top of the rover!

    No shit Sherlock!

    Come on guys, this is a tech website, not the BBC. Where else would its MastCam be other than on the top?

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: "using its MastCam camera mounted on the top of the rover!

      Held by a seriously overweight, sweating alien in a garishly-colored sandbathing suit that reveals too much of his anatomy in a horrible, horrible way, evidently.

  22. xyz Silver badge
    Alien

    I'm no nutter (well, maybe) but...

    I get the impression that Nasa would say anything rather than give it a poke. If that rover came across some golden arches with a drive-thru (US English), Nasa would probably come up with some convoluted story rather than admit it was a McDonalds. Here we've got a planet with pretty much piss all atmosphere and suddenly it's able to polish hard objects better than a £5000 an hour hooker. My arse.

    1. Danny 14 Silver badge
      Stop

      Re: I'm no nutter (well, maybe) but...

      im no geologist but im guessing this happens over periods of hundreds of thousands of years.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        Re: I'm no nutter (well, maybe) but...

        > hundreds of thousands of years

        That's some seriously good hooker.

      2. Mike Richards Silver badge

        Re: I'm no nutter (well, maybe) but...

        'im no geologist but im guessing this happens over periods of hundreds of thousands of years.'

        Yep. or as a geologist would say 'almost instantly'.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "some more excitable space enthusiasts saw something of possible extraterrestrial origin"

    I should think that they are right.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "...a load of wind doing its abrasive duty."

    Why, oh why, does that evoke a distasteful image of my ex-wife?

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