Opportunity Rover Discovers Mystery Rock on Mars
10 years after NASA's Opportunity rover landed on Mars for the first time, a mysterious rock, that looks like a white jelly doughnut, suddenly appears in its radar. (Jan. 24)
By Irene Klotz
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla., Jan 21 (Reuters) - Scientists are stumped as to how a rock mysteriously appeared in images taken two weeks apart by NASA's Mars rover Opportunity.
On Jan. 8, while preparing to use its robotic arm for science investigation, Opportunity sent back a picture of its work area.
Oddly, it showed a bright white rock, about the size of a doughnut, where only barren bedrock had appeared in a picture taken two weeks earlier. Scientists suspect the rock was flipped over by one of the rover's wheels.
It also may have been deposited after a meteorite landed nearby.
Either way, the rock, dubbed "Pinnacle Island" is providing an unexpected science bonus.
"Much of the rock is bright-toned, nearly white," NASA said in a statement on Tuesday. "A portion is deep red in color. Pinnacle Island may have been flipped upside-down when a wheel dislodged it, providing an unusual circumstance for examining the underside of a Martian rock."
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