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NASA baffled as Mars rover discovers mysterious rocks with ‘tonnes of potential’

The US space agency has shared a collection of startling images captured by Perseverance, which is NASA’s Mars probe tasked with investigating the planet for signs of ancient life. The scientists were left puzzled by stones balancing themselves on top of one another in physics-defying ways. The rover, which has been exploring Mars since February last year, found the rock formations in the Jezero Crater region, where it also already made a number of fascinating discoveries.

The images show a rock formation that consisted of a stone that balanced itself on top of a much larger rock.

In a tweet, NASA’s Perseverance team wrote: From earlier, distant views, my team nicknamed this area “the bacon strip.” (My overhead map shows why.)

“Now that I’m up on top, we’re calling it “Hogwallow Flats” – and the nearby rocks are a sight to behold.

“My team is happy as pigs in mud(stone)!

“I mean, take a look at some of these close-ups.

“Tonnes of potential targets for study. Paradise for rock nerds like myself.”

Scientists at NASA have decided to focus the Perseverance’s investigations on the Jezero Crater as billions of years ago, it is believed the site hosted a lake and a river delta and could provide valuable information about the possibility of ancient life on Mars.

Last week, while exploring the very same crater, Perseverance shared an image of a shiny silver object wedged between two rocks on the floor of the Red Planet.

However, NASA immediately dismissed any suggestions that this object was a sign of extraterrestrial life.

This silver object was actually a piece of space trash that the Perseverance mission had brought over from Earth after it launched in 2020.

The Perseverance team shared the image on Twitter saying: “My team has spotted something unexpected.

“It’s a piece of a thermal blanket that they think may have come from my descent stage, the rocket-powered jet pack that set me down on landing day back in 2021.

“That shiny bit of foil is part of a thermal blanket — a material used to control temperatures.

“It’s a surprise finding this here: My descent stage crashed about 2 km [1.2 miles] away.

“Did this piece land here after that, or was it blown here by the wind?”

The Mars 2020/Perseverance Rover is designed to better understand the geology of Mars and seek signs of ancient life.

According to NASA’s website: “The mission will collect and store a set of rock and soil samples that could be returned to Earth in the future.

“It will also test new technology to benefit future robotic and human exploration of Mars.”

The Perseverance mission is part of NASA’s Mars Exploration Program, is a long-term effort to explore the planet Mars.