Last November, a team of scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory noticed that a small rock had rolled across the surface of Mars as the InSight robotic lander touched down. Now, NASA has named that small rock on Mars the “Rolling Stones Rock” after the Rolling Stones.
The news was announced at the the Stones’ concert in Pasadena, California on Thursday night where Robert Downey, Jr. explained the naming process.
Downey Jr. noted, “And some scientists, in a fit of fandom and clever association, they put forth, ‘Why don’t we name it, Rolling Stones Rock?'”
In addition to the news, NASA shared a visual recreation of the rock’s roll, which ends with an actual photo of “Rolling Stones Rock.” The now-famous rock will appear on working, informal maps of the Red Planet as it's historic roll is “the farthest NASA has seen a rock roll while landing a spacecraft on another planet.” While “Rolling Stones Rock” won't really appear in scientific papers, NASA scientists often use unofficial nicknames for rocks and other geological features to make their work easier.
In a statement, the Rolling Stones said of the honor, “What a wonderful way to celebrate the ‘Stones No Filter’ tour arriving in Pasadena. This is definitely a milestone in our long and eventful history. A huge thank you to everyone at NASA for making it happen.”
Check out the announcement and the visual recreation below.
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Article image: NASA present day seal. (National Aeronautics and Space Administration [Available through Public Domain] via Wikimedia Commons.)