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Mystery rock appears on Mars rover image


Posted on Sunday, 19 January, 2014 | Comment icon 140 comments

Before (left) and after (right) the rock appeared. Image Credit: NASA
NASA's Opportunity rover has spotted a strange rock that seems to have appeared out of nowhere.
The rover had taken a photograph of the ground in front of it earlier this month, yet a second photograph taken a short time later appeared to show a peculiar doughnut-shaped rock in the middle of the frame that hadn't been there earlier.

Dubbed "Pinnacle Island", the strange boulder has perplexed mission engineers who have struggled to determine where it came from. "It was a total surprise, we were like 'wait a second, that wasn't there before, it can't be right. Oh my god! It wasn't there before!'" said lead scientist Steve Squyres. "We were absolutely startled."

Scientists have suggested that the rover could have pinged the rock in to the frame with its wheels or that it could have been thrown there by a nearby meteorite impact. An analysis of the rock has indicated that its chemical composition does not match that of rocks found elsewhere on Mars.

"I think it's something that we did... we flung it," said Squyres. "It obligingly turned upside down, so we're seeing a side that hasn't seen the Martian atmosphere in billions of years and there it is for us to investigate. It's just a stroke of luck."

Source: Wired | Comments (140)

Tags: Mars, Opportunity


 
Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #131 Posted by toast on 24 January, 2014, 13:33
Comment icon #132 Posted by Jacques Terreur on 24 January, 2014, 13:50
of course, rock can be melted! but i doubt the result of that makes a nice temple
Comment icon #133 Posted by mountain_softball on 25 January, 2014, 4:27
underneath the ground had something to do with it, the weather or when heavy material rides over it could brought it out from the ground as the rover was near by.
Comment icon #134 Posted by DONTEATUS on 26 January, 2014, 3:24
Sounds like the RH front wheel is locked up!
Comment icon #135 Posted by Sakari on 26 January, 2014, 3:53
He did it...........
Comment icon #136 Posted by ChrLzs on 26 January, 2014, 14:10
Wait a minute - look at the shadow angles!! That's fake - probably taken in a studio on earth.
Comment icon #137 Posted by DONTEATUS on 28 January, 2014, 4:14
You know the more NASA Looks at it and the more everyone Looks at it ! THe Better the Odds of a Better reason to Send Men& Women to Mars ! We would Really Get into the Digging part of the Exploration ! I Love that we get little hints like this !
Comment icon #138 Posted by Calibeliever on 28 January, 2014, 15:56
I'd certainly like to see at least more sophisticated rovers continue to explore there. It cracked me up a little that when we flipped over a rock everyone was all excited because we were seeeing something we normally wouldn't get to see! Maybe next time we send up something that can turn over a rock now and then lol. I'm not putting down the rover or it's designers at all. An amazing feat to do what they've done, but we are growing leaps and bounds right now with robotics. Let's get something up there that can cover some distance and has a little more flexibilit... [More]
Comment icon #139 Posted by DONTEATUS on 28 January, 2014, 19:16
Purty sure we have the ability to Flip over rocks ! Afterall Its NASA ! They can land a Ton on Mars !
Comment icon #140 Posted by Calibeliever on 28 January, 2014, 19:37
No doubt lol. Back in the 90's we used to have a running joke: NASA. Successfully crashing into Mars for decades now For what we have up there now it's remarkable. Pathfinder was designed in the 80's and flown in the 90's. Design for Spirit and Opportunity began back in the late 80's. Just thinking how far we've come in the last decade it's exciting to think of what we'll be able to fly in the next 10 years.


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