Team of scientists exploring Mars named rock formation after city

The outcrop shown was named Clovis because of its arrowhead shape. Courtesy photo: New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science.

By William Thompson: Freedom Newspapers

Clovis is sharing its name with a large rock formation on Mars.

Scientist Larry Crumpler, a member of the Mars Exploration Rover science team, said the “Spirit” rover came upon a large section of exposed bedrock late last month.

“A 15-foot section of bedrock on a 30-foot ridge was found, and the scientists agreed that it resembled an arrowhead in shape,” Crumpler said. “I suggested we name the large rock outcrop ‘Clovis’ after the site of the earliest known paleo-Indian culture in the U.S. Now, scientists all over the world call that structure ‘Clovis.’”

Crumpler observes data and images from the Mars rover at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History in Albuquerque where he is the research curator.

“I’m involved in long-term planning for the rover mission,” Crumpler said. “The rover arrived on Mars on Jan 4. It was only supposed to remain operational for 90 days, but it is still collecting data for more than 215 days after its arrival.”
Crumpler is one of the scientists who relays instructions to the rover. He said the rover has found evidence that water may have existed on Mars in the distant past.

“The rover has found rocks that have been corroded by something,” Crumpler said, “and it is highly likely that the rocks were corroded by water.”

Clovis Mayor David Lansford said the newly designated ‘Clovis’ formation on Mars is a cause for pride.

“When the name of Clovis is used in a positive way to designate a place, then we are proud to share that name,” Lansford said. “Clearly the name ‘Clovis’ is special and its significance seems to be growing.”