PASADENA, Calif. — The Rolling Stones have received just about every earthly honor in their legendary career, and now they are making rock history on Mars.
NASA has named a rock there after the band. It’s the size of a golf ball and was photographed by the InSight lander.
Actor Robert Downey Jr. announced the honor Thursday night before the band’s concert at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California. The stadium is about three miles from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which runs the Mars InSight mission.
“NASA has given us something we’ve always dreamed of, our own rock on Mars,” singer Mick Jagger told the crowd. “I can’t believe it. I want to put it, bring it back and put it on our mantelpiece.”
You’re probably wondering why this has happened. When the InSight lander touched down on the Red Planet on November 26, 2018, its thrusters blew the rock about 3 feet — making it a rolling stone in the most literal sense. It’s the farthest NASA has seen a rock roll during a landing on another planet, the space agency said in a news release.
NASA says the new name isn’t official because the International Astronomical Union is in charge of assigning the scientific names of places and objects in the solar system, such as planets, asteroids and locations on other worlds.
NASA scientists frequently give nicknames to rocks and geographical features to help tell them apart. “So while the name Rolling Stones Rock is informal, it will appear on working maps of the Red Planet,” the NASA statement said.
NASA’s InSight lander is studying the deep interior of Mars, seismic activity, and the frequency of meteor strikes. It also provides a daily weather report.