During its ongoing investigation of Martian rocks in Gale Crater, the Curiosity rover stumbled on a tiny surprise. The rock artifact, which resembles a piece of coral or a flower, is smaller than a penny.
The Martian "flower" and the spherical pieces next to it were likely "made in the ancient past when minerals carried by water cemented the rock," according to NASA.
Curiosity took an image of the little rock arrangement on February 24 using the Mars Hand Lens Imager, a camera located on the end of its robotic arm.
Previously, the Opportunity rover also spotted Martian "blueberries," little mineral spherules indicative of once watery soil on the red planet.
Early on, Curiosity discovered the chemical and mineral evidence affirming the planet's habitability sometime in its distant past. Ever since, Curiosity has been investigating the geologic record to understand when Mars might have been most suitable to host life.
The car-size rover paved the way for the Perseverance rover and Ingenuity helicopter, which are currently exploring Jezero Crater, located 3,700 kilometers away and will eventually return the first Martian samples to Earth through future missions. The combined efforts of these rovers could help answer the ultimate question of whether life ever existed on Mars.