Spherical Rock on Mars Proves Aliens Enjoy Golf or Are Big Fans of Spaceballs

This just in: There are balls on Ma—wait. Phrasing.
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Seriously, Mars? We send 1,982 pounds and $2.5 billion of science up there, and you just throw out a ball and try to play fetch with it like a dog? I mean, I guess that’s better than vaporizing it on sight, but come on. Have some respect.

Actually, the ball in this recent picture from the Curiosity rover is tiny and most likely not put there by aliens. Despite appearing to be about the size of a tennis ball due to lack of objects that give a sense of scale, it’s only about a centimeter across. Its perfectly round shape has stirred some interest, but it’s likely that the ball is a form of “concretion.”

Back in 2004, the Opportunity rover spotted little Martian “blueberries” on the Red Planet.


NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell/U.S. Geological Survey

These were likely formed by sedimentary rock formation when Mars had more water hazards and wasn’t so much one giant sand trap—sorry. Still daydreaming of golfing aliens on Mars. I’m just excited that I finally found a reason to be interested in a sport.

As on Earth, the sedimentary rocks on Mars were formed by minerals deposited by ancient waters. Pores form in the rock that fill up with harder, more erosion-resistant mineral deposits, and when the rock erodes away, these concretions are left behind in unique shapes. The Gale Crater where Curiosity landed is an ancient lakebed, so this kind of oddly shaped rock isn’t really out of place.

So—as usual—no aliens yet. Sorry.


(via Discovery News)

Previously in life on Mars

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Dan Van Winkle
Dan Van Winkle (he) is an editor and manager who has been working in digital media since 2013, first at now-defunct Geekosystem (RIP), and then at The Mary Sue starting in 2014, specializing in gaming, science, and technology. Outside of his professional experience, he has been active in video game modding and development as a hobby for many years. He lives in North Carolina with Lisa Brown (his wife) and Liz Lemon (their dog), both of whom are the best, and you will regret challenging him at Smash Bros.