THEY FOUND LIFE???
Whoa, whoa, whoa. Let's not get carried away here.
Yes, NASA's trusty Mars rover Curiosity did take a picture of a beautiful and intriguing object. And if you look at it quickly, you might think you were looking at ... coral? A leafless shrub? A flower?
But it is, in fact, a mineral deposit. Which is why many are calling this a mineral flower. Cute name! (If a little misleading...)
Figuring out the flower
The official name for this type of formation is diagenetic crystal cluster. It is caused by minerals being precipitated, or carried, by water. Which makes it not all that different to some formations seen in caves, such as stalagmites.
These types of objects may look fragile, but they are actually quite strong and resistant to damage and erosion. Scientists believe that this object was actually formed inside a rock millions of years ago. But while the rock eventually eroded away, our new flower friend stayed intact! (It is also about as small across as a dime, by the way!)
For a real treat, check it out by clicking and dragging this wild 3D computer model created by aerospace engineer Simone Schmauss.