Nasa says mystery rock on Mars is ‘like nothing we’ve ever seen before’
2014-01-20 0:00

From: Belfast Telegraph

A mysterious ’jelly doughnut rock’ which appeared in front of the Opportunity rover is “like nothing we’ve ever seen before”, according to Mars exploration scientists at Nasa.

Experts said they were “completely confused” by both the origins and makeup of the object, which is currently being investigated by Opportunity’s various measuring instruments.


Images captured by Opportunity show the mysterious rock ’appeared’ on an outcrop that had been empty just 12 Martian days (’Sols’) earlier.

Astronomers noticed the new rock had “appeared” without any explanation on an outcrop which had been empty just days earlier. The rover has been stuck photographing the same region of Mars for more than a month due to bad weather, with scientists at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in California monitoring the images it sends.

Nasa issued a Mars status report entitled “encountering a surprise”, and lead Mars Exploration rover scientist Steve Squyres told a JPL event it seems the planet literally “keeps throwing new things at us”.

He said the images, from 12 Martian days apart, were from no more than a couple of weeks ago. “We saw this rock just sitting here. It looks white around the edge in the middle and there’s a low spot in the centre that’s dark red – it looks like a jelly doughnut.

“And it appeared, just plain appeared at that spot – and we haven’t ever driven over that spot.”

Squyres said his team had two theories on how the rock got there – that there’s “a smoking hole in the ground somewhere nearby” and it was caused by a meteor, or that it was “somehow flicked out of the ground by a wheel” as the rover went by.

“We had driven a metre or two away from here, and I think the idea that somehow we mysteriously flicked it with a wheel is the best explanation,” Squyres said.

Yet the story got even stranger when Opportunity investigated further. Squyres explained: “We are as we speak situated with the rover’s instruments deployed making measurements of this rock.

“We’ve taken pictures of both the doughnut and jelly parts, and the got the first data on the composition of the jelly yesterday.

“It’s like nothing we’ve ever seen before,” he said. “It’s very high in sulphur, it’s very high in magnesium, it’s got twice as much manganese as we’ve ever seen in anything on Mars.

“I don’t know what any of this means. We’re completely confused, and everyone in the team is arguing and fighting (over what it means).

“That’s the beauty of this mission… what I’ve realised is that we will never be finished. There will always be something tantalising, something wonderful just beyond our reach that we didn’t quite get to – and that’s the nature of exploration.”

Squyres was speaking at an event marking the 10th anniversary of the arrival of Opportunity and Spirit on the surface of Mars.

While Spirit lost contact with Earth and was later declared “dead” in 2010, Opportunity has now roamed the planet far in excess of what was originally planned as a three-month mission. Nasa said that with its maximum speed of just 0.05mph, as of “Sol 3547” (15 January 2014) Opportunity had covered just over 24 miles (38km).

Article from: belfasttelegraph.co.uk








READ: Mystery Mars rock reveals unexpected chemical composition




Related Articles
Mysterious rock appears near Mars rover Opportunity
Curiosity breaks rock to reveal dazzling white interior
Curiosity’s surprising geological finds and spectacular self-portrait
Weather On Mars Surprisingly Warm, Curiosity Rover Finds
Has Mars Preserved Evidence of Ancient Life? Groundbreaking New Look at the 1976 Viking Mission Findings
Mars May Have Harbored Life 3.6 Billion Years Ago


Latest News from our Front Page

Amid Russia tensions, US nuclear bombers to conduct military drills in Sweden
2015-05-28 4:23
The Pentagon is planning to send nuclear bombers to Sweden for a military exercise next month amid growing tensions with Russia over the Ukraine crisis. The warplanes, the B-52 Stratofortress, will participate in a naval exercise on June 13, Swedish general Karl Engelbrektson said. They are set to fly from the United States nonstop and simulate a drop of anti-ship mines near ...
'Netanyahu to US: Give 50% more money, we'll shut up'
2015-05-28 4:55
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is asking the United States to provide Tel Aviv 50 percent more money for weapons and “we’ll shut up” on Iran nuclear talks, an author and investigative journalist in Philadelphia says. Dave Lindorff made the remarks in a phone interview with Press TV on Wednesday while commenting on a report which says Israel has asked Washington ...
Britain To Outlaw "Hate" and "Extremism"
2015-05-28 1:53
UK home secretary Theresa May : "But what we're talking about is they key values that underline our society and are being undermined by the extremists. Values like democracy, a belief in democracy, a belief in the rule of law. A belief in tolerance ...eh... for other people. Equality and acceptance for other people's faith and religions. One of the great ...
Killer robots will leave humans 'utterly defenceless' warns professor
2015-05-28 1:08
Robots, called LAWS – lethal autonomous weapons systems – will be able to kill without human intervention. Killer robots which are being developed by the US military ‘will leave humans utterly defenceless‘, an academic has warned. Two programmes commissioned by the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) are seeking to create drones which can track and kill targets even when ...
Here's how much corporations paid US senators to fast-track the TPP bill
2015-05-28 1:21
Critics of the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership are unlikely to be silenced by an analysis of the flood of money it took to push the pact over its latest hurdle. A decade in the making, the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is reaching its climax and as Congress hotly debates the biggest trade deal in a generation, its backers have turned on the ...
More News »