Tags: mars | mystery | rock | doughnut

Mars Mystery Rock, Shaped Like Doughnut, Puzzles NASA Scientists

Tuesday, 21 Jan 2014 07:44 AM

By Clyde Hughes

Share:
  Comment  |
   Contact Us  |
  Print  
|  A   A  
  Copy Shortlink
A rock shaped like a doughnut on Mars is puzzling scientists, who noticed the oddly shaped object in a NASA Opportunity rover's ground shot in December.

The Los Angeles Times reported that Opportunity photographed a barren outcropping of Mars in late December. Twelve days later, when the rover took a photo of the same area, the pastry-shaped rock popped up, seemingly appearing out of thin air.

"One of the things I like to say is Mars keeps throwing things at us," Steven Squyres, principal investigator for the Mars Exploration Rover Mission, said during a presentation about the Opportunity and the rover Spirit's first 10 years on the Red Planet.

Urgent: Do You Approve Or Disapprove of President Obama's Job Performance? Vote Now in Urgent Poll

"It was a total surprise, we were like 'wait a second, that wasn't there before, it can't be right," Squyres added. "Oh my god! It wasn't there before!' We were absolutely startled." 

Squyres told Discovery News that scientists are kicking around two theories about the mystery rock. The rover could have flipped it during a maneuver, or the rock could have landed in front of the rover after a nearby meteorite hit. He said the first theory is more likely because Opportunity's front right steering actuator has stopped working.

"So my best guess for this rock … is that it's something that was nearby," Squyres told Discovery News. "I must stress that I'm guessing now, but I think it happened when the rover did a turn in place a meter or two from where this rock now lies."

The Opportunity continues to make new discoveries after landing on Mars on Jan. 24, 2004 in the Meridiani Planum. It has traveled 24 miles and returned more than 187,000 pictures of Earth's closest neighbor, according to NASA. 

The Opportunity's twin spacecraft, the Spirit, landed on Mars on Jan. 3, 2004 and was on Mars until March 2010. The Spirit traveled 4.8 miles in the Gusev Crater.

"I used to have this comforting notion that no matter how long the rovers last, at some point we would get to a stage in the mission where we could sit back and fold our arms and say to ourselves ... 'We did it ... we learned everything about Mars that we could with this vehicle, at this place,' " Squyres told the Los Angeles Times. "But Mars isn't like that."

Editor's Note: Do You Support Obamacare? Vote in Urgent National Poll

Related Stories:

© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Share:
  Comment  |
   Contact Us  |
  Print  
  Copy Shortlink
Send me more news as it happens.
 
 
Get me on The Wire
Send me more news as it happens.
Around the Web
Join the Newsmax Community
Please review Community Guidelines before posting a comment.
>> Register to share your comments with the community.
>> Login if you are already a member.
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
Email:
Country
Zip Code:
Privacy: We never share your email.
 
Hot Topics
Follow Newsmax
Like us
on Facebook
Follow us
on Twitter
Add us
on Google Plus
Top Stories

Newsmax, Moneynews, and Independent. American. are registered trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc. Newsmax TV, NewsmaxWorld, NewsmaxHealth, are trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc.

 
NEWSMAX.COM
America's News Page
©  Newsmax Media, Inc.
All Rights Reserved