Another oddity from Curiosity – the ‘hammerhead’

The "hammerhead" as seen in this Mastcam image from sol 173. Click for larger version. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech
The “hammerhead” as seen in this Mastcam image from sol 173 (near top of image). Click for larger version. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech

The Curiosity rover is in a place with a lot of geological diversity, as becomes more apparent the longer the mission continues. Sometimes, as we’ve seen already a few times, something will be noticed in the images that makes one ask, “what’s that?”

Close-up view of the "hammerhead" object. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech
Close-up view of the “hammerhead.” Note the bright spots on top and the corresponding shadow below. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech

Here is the latest one, from sol 173, which is causing a bit of discussion again. Near the top of the image above is what looks like a small pedestal-shape sticking out of the rock, with two “shiny bits” on top. The top part is kind of hammerhead-shaped, which can also be seen in the shadow on the rock.

The shape itself is interesting (an eroded protrusion?), but what are the bright things? Are they the same as other bright mineral spots and veins seen elsewhere which are thought to be gypsum, or something else? Perhaps this is similar to the other shiny-looking “flower” seen previously, except that this one is protruding out more? Hopefully some closer images, preferably MAHLI, can be taken of this new “curiosity”…

Paul Scott Anderson is a freelance space writer with a life-long passion for space exploration and astronomy. He started his blog The Meridiani Journal in 2005, which is a chronicle of planetary exploration. He also publishes The Exoplanet Report e-paper. In 2011, he started writing about space on a freelance basis, and now also currently write for AmericaSpace and He has also written for Universe Today and SpaceFlight Insider, has been published in The Mars Quarterly and has done supplementary writing for the well-known iOS app Exoplanet for iPhone and iPad.


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