This week has been tough so we have something of a feel good story to round it off.
Ageing rockers the Rolling Stones have had a rock on the Martian surface named after them by NASA’s InSight lander team.
While we initially thought this was a large boulder or a mountain, it turns out Rolling Stone Rock is just a rock.
“A little larger than a golf ball, the rock appeared to have rolled about 3 feet (1 meter) on Nov. 26, 2018, propelled by InSight’s thrusters as the spacecraft touched down on Mars to study the Red Planet’s deep interior,” wrote NASA in a news update.
Hello “@RollingStones Rock” Who could hang a name on you? Um… us!
When @NASAInsight touched down on the Red Planet, its engines sent a rock rolling across Mars' surface. We named it for the band. Take a closer look and learn how #MarsRocks get named: https://t.co/xY0TfoksJP pic.twitter.com/BZlABAMaZJ
— NASA (@NASA) August 23, 2019
Images taken the next day by InSight revealed divots on the Martian soil showing how far Rolling Stones Rock had travelled, hence the name.
“It’s the farthest NASA has seen a rock roll while landing a spacecraft on another planet,” the administration said.
The name of this little rock was announced by Iron Man himself, Robert Downey Jr., ahead of a Stones concert at the Rose Bowl Stadium.
While this is a very cool event we have to point out that the name Rolling Stones Rock isn’t actually official.
“Official scientific names for places and objects throughout the solar system — including asteroids, comets and locations on planets — can be designated only by the International Astronomical Union,” explained NASA.
“But scientists working with NASA’s Mars rovers have given lots of unofficial nicknames to rocks and other geological features. Doing so makes it easier for them to discuss different objects and refer to them in science papers. So while the name Rolling Stones Rock is informal, it will appear on working maps of the Red Planet,” it added.
You can watch Robert Downey Jr. make the announcement below.