By: Tariq Malik Published: 01/05/2013 11:30 AM EST on SPACE.com
New photos of Mars from NASA’s Curiosity rover have sparked a buzz of discussion over an odd formation that some have dubbed a “flower” embedded in a Martian rock. The rover has also found a snake-like rock formation winding across the Red Planet’s surface.
The so-called Mars “flower” photo was snapped on Dec. 19 by the microscope-like Mars Hand Lends Imager at the end of Curiosity’s robotic arm. At the lower left of the image is a strange, apparently transparent formation that some Internet forum users on the website claimed looked much like a flower, according to NBCNews.com’s photoblog.
NASA posted a raw, unprocessed version of the photo online on the Curiosity rover’s mission website overseen by the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. Internet forum readers on the website Above Top Secret christened the object a flower, according to NBCNews.com’s Alan Boyle.
Curiosity has seen bits of clear plastic (pieces of the rover itself) on the surface of Mars before, but NASA officials said that doesn’t appear to be the case this time.
JPL spokesman Guy Webster told NBCNews.com that the object “appears to be part of the rock, not debris from the spacecraft.” [Face on Mars & More Martian Illusions (Photos)]
This image shows the full photo from Mars rover Curiosity of a strange transparent feature on a rock, which some have nicknamed a “flower.” It appears at lower left. Image taken Dec. 19, 2012.