The NASA space buggy on Mars, the rover Curiosity, on Friday, Jan. 4, moved next to a snake-like rock formation.
It's a darker shade of rock called Snake River and stands out against the flatter rocks through which it winds.
The formation is intriguing. And scientists positioned Curiosity for a closer look.
"It's one piece of the puzzle," said the mission's project scientist, John Grotzinger of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. "It has a crosscutting relationship to the surrounding rock and appears to have formed after the deposition of the layer that it transects."
Grotzinger remarks are part of a mission status report on the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory website.
The goal of the mission is to see if Mars ever had the right conditions to support life, according to NASA.
Meanwhile, a Curiosity photo taken shortly before Christmas has people talking.
The Dec. 19 photo shows a pearly and curly object embedded in sand-colored rock. The object stands out, contrasting with the surrounding rock — like a single desert bloom.
Some people have called the formation a "flower."
More recently, on Jan. 7, NASA reported the rover's first ever use of a brush to
sweep dust off a rock in Yellowknife Bay.
These firsts and the spectacular images on the mission hold great drama for those who are following it, whether they are scientists, budding scientists — including high school robotics students — or those curious about outer space.