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Mystery rock appears on Mars rover image

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bison

What are the odds of Opportunity flipping a rock a meter or more away from itself, something that has apparently never happened before in its ten year long sojourn on Mars, and then finding that it has anomalous colors, and a mineral composition never seen before on the Red Planet?

The rover can't have selected the rock it would disturb. It seems that there could be a connection between the sudden appearance of the object, and its make up.

Just maybe, we're looking at a living thing, armored with a mineralized 'shell' against the harsh radiation regime and low temperatures on Mars, and capable of movement.

Edited by bison
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toast

Just maybe, we're looking at a living thing, armored with a mineralized 'shell' against the harsh radiation regime and low

temperatures on Mars, and capable of movement.

post-143986-0-01985800-1390413432_thumb.

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bison

Dr. Steve Squyers of NASA reported that the Opportunity rover was never nearer the mysteriously appearing object than 1 to 2 meters. The object would have had to have been flipped or skidded at least that far.

Given the rough texture of the object, and of the Martian surface, a transport of this distance would seem very improbable, allowing for a reasonable amount of friction.

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DieChecker

What are the odds of Opportunity flipping a rock a meter or more away from itself, something that has apparently never happened before in its ten year long sojourn on Mars, and then finding that it has anomalous colors, and a mineral composition never seen before on the Red Planet?

The rover can't have selected the rock it would disturb. It seems that there could be a connection between the sudden appearance of the object, and its make up.

Just maybe, we're looking at a living thing, armored with a mineralized 'shell' against the harsh radiation regime and low temperatures on Mars, and capable of movement.

And yet, there is a clear trail of disturbed pebbles running directly from the rover to the rock.

Wouldn't you think if this was alive, that the concavity would indicate where the animal should be at (the red stuff). Yet, the chemical analysis does not indicate anything like we'd expect from an organism.

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bison

A living organism, moving from the general direction of the rover, might create a trail behind it, too. It may be that all the upwardly exposed parts are a mineral coating for protection, and we haven't yet seen the living body of the creature.

This business of the wheel of the rover squirting the rock out from under it, to a distance of a meter or more sounds very doubtful. They've compared this to 'tiddlywinks', but the comparison appears misleading. Those little disks are slippery smooth, and very light in weight. The 'rock' and the surface of Mars appear to be quite rough. Try covering some tiddlywinks with sandpaper and see how far they'll hop. Nowhere near 15 to 30 times their own diameter, I'll wager.

Edited by bison

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DieChecker

A living organism, moving from the general direction of the rover, might create a trail behind it, too. It may be that all the upwardly exposed parts are a mineral coating for protection, and we haven't yet seen the living body of the creature.

This business of the wheel of the rover squirting the rock out from under it, to a distance of a meter or more sounds very doubtful. They've compared this to 'tiddlywinks', but the comparison appears misleading. Those little disks are slippery smooth, and very light in weight. The 'rock' and the surface of Mars appear to be quite rough. Try covering some tiddlywinks with sandpaper and see how far they'll hop. Nowhere near 15 to 30 times their own diameter, I'll wager.

Possibly... If I was a Mars rock scrabbler, and a big wheel rolled over me, I'd take a couple days and crawl away too.

Perhaps they need to roll over it again and see if it jumps again, or crawls off?

Edited by DieChecker
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DONTEATUS

I would look for the parked Police car ! Then We Know for a Fact thats ITs a Jelly Douhnut ! Douh !!!

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Peter B

What are the odds of Opportunity flipping a rock a meter or more away from itself, something that has apparently never happened before in its ten year long sojourn on Mars, and then finding that it has anomalous colors, and a mineral composition never seen before on the Red Planet?

It's impossible to know how many times one of the rovers did a rock flip like this with it not being imaged.

Having said that, I don't know what sort of sensory data the rovers transmit back to Earth. But if the rovers transmit information such as rate of change of direction they might be able to discern a point at which the rover stops turning for a few seconds (as the wheel jams against the rock) then suddenly accelerates to a high rate of turn for a fraction of a second (as the rock releases), then slows down again to a normal rate of rotation.

The rover can't have selected the rock it would disturb. It seems that there could be a connection between the sudden appearance of the object, and its make up.

Just maybe, we're looking at a living thing, armored with a mineralized 'shell' against the harsh radiation regime and low temperatures on Mars, and capable of movement.

You mean, like a Martian Jumping Snail?

I'll be interested to see what else they find out about Pinnacle Island.

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bison

The scenario of a rough rock on the rough surface of Mars being propelled a meter or two from beneath the wheel of the Opportunity rover, as if it were a slippery smooth tiddlywinks disk seems strained. If the object moved independently, this suggests the possibility of life. It will be interesting to hear what they have to say today at the NASA press conference on Opportunity.-- 2 p.m. Eastern Time, 11 a.m. Pacific, 1900 GMT, live and archived on NASA TV.

http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/nasatv/#.Ut8Y3hyttqo

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Calibeliever

The scenario of a rough rock on the rough surface of Mars being propelled a meter or two from beneath the wheel of the Opportunity rover, as if it were a slippery smooth tiddlywinks disk seems strained. If the object moved independently, this suggests the possibility of life. It will be interesting to hear what they have to say today at the NASA press conference on Opportunity.-- 2 p.m. Eastern Time, 11 a.m. Pacific, 1900 GMT, live and archived on NASA TV.

http://www.nasa.gov/.../#.Ut8Y3hyttqo

Thanks for the link. I'll be watching :)

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ufoscan

Recent picture by Opportunity reveals source of rock:

post-69129-0-94729400-1390516067_thumb.j

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seeder

Thanks for the link. I'll be watching :)

damn I missed this show, what was revealed? Anyone?

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bison

I had a meeting to attend, so also missed the live NASA press conference. It will be repeated three times tomorrow on NASA TV at the following times: 8 a.m.. 4 p.m., and 8 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. ( 5 a.m., 1 p.m., and 5 p.m. Pacific; 1300, and 2100, Friday, and 0100 Saturday GMT).

From comments from others who saw it, I gather that not a great deal was said about the Pinnacle Island object, that hadn't been said before. They apparently still believe that the object is a rock, thrown into its present location by the wheel of the Opportunity rover.

NASA will apparently be inquiring more thoroughly into this scenario over the next few days. They will reportedly move the rover a bit, as they search for the site the rock was supposedly dislodged from.

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DONTEATUS

UFO scan Wins Hands down !

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Pericynthion

Dr. Steve Squyers of NASA reported that the Opportunity rover was never nearer the mysteriously appearing object than 1 to 2 meters. The object would have had to have been flipped or skidded at least that far.

Given the rough texture of the object, and of the Martian surface, a transport of this distance would seem very improbable, allowing for a reasonable amount of friction.

Remember, though, this isn't happening on Earth. Martian gravity is only about 38% of Earth's gravity, so friction forces will be greatly reduced compared to the same scenario on Earth. We don't know how fast the rock may have been traveling when it came loose (if that's what actually happened) or what the actual friction characteristics of the surfaces really are. And for all we know, the rock may have rolled or bounced rather than skidded.

I don't think we have enough data to say that this scenario is improbable. Let's wait and see what they find as they examine things in more detail.

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Pericynthion

Here's a recording of today's press conference:

[media=]

[/media]

Dr. Squyres talks about the Pinnacle Island rock beginning at about 18:46. Here's a summary of his update:

"We don't think that anything particularly exotic happened here. The most likely scenario: just uphill from this location, as we were driving on some bedrock, the Opportunity rover did a kind of a pirouette, we call it a turn-in-place, but drove in such a fashion that it would drag the right front wheel kind of chattering across the ground. And we think that in the process of that wheel moving across the ground (again, this is speculation at this point) that we kind of flicked it, kind of tiddly-winked it out of the ground and then it moved to the location where we see it."

(Note from Pericynthion: Opportunity's right front wheel steering actuator is jammed, so that wheel can't turn left or right. That's why that wheel drags sideways when the rover turns.)

They haven't found the divot, the hole where it came from. The place where they think it came from is currently blocked by the solar arrays. They will soon maneuver the rover so they can go searching for the hole.

The rock appears to have flipped upside down when it came loose. If that's the case, we're seeing the underside that hasn't seen the Martian atmosphere for perhaps billions of years, so we're seeing stuff we don't normally get to see.

The rock is small, whitish around the outside, and a deep, deep red color in the middle (not the normal Mars red). Looks like a jelly donut. They've looked at it with the microscope -- it's clearly a rock. They've looked at it with the compositional spectrometer and are seeing a strange composition, different from anything they've seen before. There's a lot of sulfur in it, suggesting a lot of sulfate salts which might have precipitated out beneath the surface. Very high concentrations of manganese - more than they've ever seen in a Martian rock. High concentration of magnesium. They're still working this out -- making measurements right now. Ongoing story of discovery. Mars keeps throwing new stuff at us.

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qxcontinuum

It is important to understand that according to Nasa's analyses, is a rock unlike any other with a composition unlike any other. Also the rock was not there and then it was. this is really fantastic and special.

What if the rock is ...alive...?

Or what if the rock was putted there by someone and it's composition is an encrypted message?

Or what if there was something alive underneath this rock that moved it?

Edited by qxcontinuum

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Pericynthion

It is important to understand that according to Nasa's analyses, is a rock unlike any other with a composition unlike any other. Also the rock was not there and then it was. this is really fantastic and special.

What if the rock is ...alive...?

Or what if the rock was putted there by someone and it's composition is an encrypted message?

Or what if there was something alive underneath this rock that moved it?

Or ... what if it's just a freshly-exposed rock surface with deposits left by the ancient water that once existed there. Deposits that have weathered away on the surface after being exposed to wind and sun for billions of years, but that have remained protected underneath the rocks and can only be seen when a rock is dug out and turned over.

The MER rovers can't normally flip rocks over to look underneath. They're pretty much limited to looking at the surface of things. They can use tools to scrape off the upper layers of dust and weathering to see a fresher bit of the upper surface, but they can't pick up a rock and look beneath it.

Having a rock knocked upside down right in front of the rover is a pretty unusual and lucky occurrence, but that's likely all it is. This sort of thing has happened before. Back in 2007, the Spirit rover, driving with one dead wheel, dragged that locked wheel through an area of soft soil and uncovered a unique patch of almost pure silica (link).

176931main_pia09403-330.jpg

The reaction from the science team was just about same then as it is now:

"You could hear people gasp in astonishment," said Steve Squyres of Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., principal investigator for the Mars rovers' science instruments. "This is a remarkable discovery. And the fact that we found something this new and different after nearly 1,200 days on Mars makes it even more remarkable. It makes you wonder what else is still out there."

It was pure chance that Spirit happened to drag its dead wheel through that little patch of unusual soil, stuff that hadn't ever been seen before on Mars. It's also very likely just pure chance that Opportunity dragged a dead wheel across a rock and flipped it over, exposing another unusual piece of Martian geology that hasn't been seen before. When you spend more than 3500 days exploring a place, a few lucky breaks can happen.

Edit: Fixed a typo

Edited by Pericynthion
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qxcontinuum

You are missing the point: the rover has not moved in weeks now. The composition of the rock is unlike any other. So once again. The rover has not moved.... Not moved, it was in a stationary position. Has not moved......not moved.... Not moved... Can we stop now saying that it was one of the wheels?

The rover has not moved in weeks...not move...everyone please repeat; not move...ok?

"The rover, which landed on Mars in 2004, hasn't moved in over a month as it waits for better weather on the red planet.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2541383/Mystery-Mars-Rock-suddenly-appears-Opportunity-rover-leaving-scientists-baffled.html#ixzz2rI99NkWa "

Edited by qxcontinuum

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DieChecker

You are missing the point: the rover has not moved in weeks now. The composition of the rock is unlike any other. So once again. The rover has not moved.... Not moved, it was in a stationary position. Has not moved......not moved.... Not moved... Can we stop now saying that it was one of the wheels?

The rover has not moved in weeks...not move...everyone please repeat; not move...ok?

You need to go read that NASA article again. They said it ROTATED in place, did not go anywhere, but turned in a circle... Dragging one of the wheels on purpose. The wheel which lines up with the debris trail that leads to the Jelly Dounut Rock.

Read post 116.

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DieChecker

Remember, though, this isn't happening on Earth. Martian gravity is only about 38% of Earth's gravity, so friction forces will be greatly reduced compared to the same scenario on Earth. We don't know how fast the rock may have been traveling when it came loose (if that's what actually happened) or what the actual friction characteristics of the surfaces really are. And for all we know, the rock may have rolled or bounced rather than skidded.

I don't think we have enough data to say that this scenario is improbable. Let's wait and see what they find as they examine things in more detail.

Not to mention that the atmosphere is something like 1% of the air pressure of Earth, so you have less gravity and less air resistance.

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Pericynthion

Not to mention that the atmosphere is something like 1% of the air pressure of Earth, so you have less gravity and less air resistance.

Absolutely! :tu:

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Pericynthion

You are missing the point: the rover has not moved in weeks now. The composition of the rock is unlike any other. So once again. The rover has not moved.... Not moved, it was in a stationary position. Has not moved......not moved.... Not moved... Can we stop now saying that it was one of the wheels?

The rover has not moved in weeks...not move...everyone please repeat; not move...ok?

"The rover, which landed on Mars in 2004, hasn't moved in over a month as it waits for better weather on the red planet.

Read more: http://www.dailymail...l#ixzz2rI99NkWa "

Hi qx. That article isn't giving you the whole story. As DieChecker already said, they turned the rover to face in a different direction on sol 3540 but didn't move it any great distance. Please go back and watch the press conference video in my earlier post or read my synopsis of Dr. Steve Squyer's comments. Also, please take a look at my post here (link). I found a quote from another MER scientist, Dr. Jim Rice, confirming that Opportunity made a turn in place on sol 3540 (the day Pinnacle Island was first noticed).

You can also confirm this turn by looking at the imagery. Please look at the images I posted. On sol 3541, Opportunity has changed position from where it had been on earlier days. They definitely turned on sol 3540.

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psyche101

Good God.

We go from a flipped rock to this:

images.jpeg

It sure is a pleasure to see you Peri. Posts like the living rocks illustrate just how important and valuable your input is. Thank you for giving us your time mate.

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Jacques Terreur

nice, this is the first thread in weeks that gave me the actual feeling of getting properly informed about stuff, not drowned in speculative bickering! :tu:

thx

Edit to add: just because people were throwing in "living rocks" into the discussion:

...anybody familiar with this documentary?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alien_Planet

i saw it some years ago, it's quite amusing, and IIRC it features a lifeform that would for us

humans be "almost indistinguishable from a rock" and is based on silicone instead of carbon. (something something its metabolism would be much slower than in a carbon-based lifeform, thatÄs why it appears as rock-like....don'T quote me on that)

Edited by Jacques Terreur

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