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2,000 light years from home: A rock on Mars is named after the Rolling Stones

The Rolling Stones got a surprise Thursday night before their concert at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA...from none other than Iron Man.

Marvel movie star Robert Downey Jr. announced prior to the band taking the stage that Mick Jagger and company had earned an unusual honor:  A rock on Mars has been named after them.

Pasadena is down the road from NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab, which is leading the mission to put its InSight lander on the surface of Mars.  When InSight touched down on Mars on November 26, 2018, it dislodged a rock a little larger than a golf ball, which then rolled about three feet. 

Apparently, that's the farthest NASA has seen a rock roll as a result of a spacecraft landing on another planet.  Yes, they keep track of these things.

In honor of this moment, the rock has been informally dubbed Rolling Stones Rock.  Jet Propulsion Lab geologist Matt Golombek said in a statement, "I've seen a lot of Mars rocks over my career. This one probably won't be in a lot of scientific papers, but it's definitely one of the coolest."

Prior to making the announcement, Downey noted, " "Cross-pollinating science and a legendary rock band is always a good thing."

Of course, the Stones were delighted by the honor, saying in a statement, "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."

Lori Glaze, director of NASA's Planetary Science Division, added, "When we found out the Stones would be in Pasadena, honoring them seemed like a fun way to reach fans all over the world."






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