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Opportunity Rover Solves Rock Mystery

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mystery rock site

Former site of the mystery rock

A few weeks ago, the Opportunity Rover’s cameras picked up a mystery rock on Mars. The rock, which was compared in size and shape (but not taste, as not even Opportunity was willing to take a bite) to a jelly doughnut and called “Pinnacle Island,” baffled scientists and got conspiracy theorists all aflutter. In fact, someone named Rhawn Joseph even sued NASA, alleging that “the refusal to take close up photos from various angles, the refusal to take microscopic images of the specimen, the refusal to release high resolution photos, is inexplicable, recklessly negligent, and bizarre.” Joseph contended that the rock had grown to a size discernible via photo, having grown from spores, and wanted to sue NASA for not appropriately engaging the possibility that the rock was biological in nature. Well, sure, and maybe Elvis is on Mars too.

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Mystery Rock Appears On Mars

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Mars rockMeteorite? Rover antics? Elvis?

All of these theories are on the table when it comes to the mysterious rock that has appeared on Mars. When scientists working with the Mars Opportunity Rover compared two photos — one taken in late December and one on January 8 — they noticed the rock, which apparently appeared right in front of the rover at some point within a 12-day window.

The rover’s lead scientist, Steve Squyres, announced the finding at a 10-year anniversary event hosted by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, celebrating a decade of roving on the red planet: “It’s about the size of a jelly doughnut. 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!’ We were absolutely startled.”