The Jelly Donut of Mars

Jelly Donut on Mars

There is no such place as a Mary Lee or Dunkin Donuts over on Mars.  At least, not yet.  But several days ago the Mars Rover Opportunity caught a mysterious object in its lenses that looked awfully like a jelly doughnut.   The strange thing is that it just happened to plop down in front of the camera.  If you look at the picture above you’ll see that it’s obviously a before-and-after shot.  The picture on the left was taken on December 26 of 2013 and the image on the right was taken 13 days later.  The object wasn’t there before.  So how did it get there?

This rock appeared in front of Opportunity’s camera suddenly on January 8th.  It’s white on the outside and red on the inside, kind of like a jelly doughnut.  It is now being called “Pinnacle Island” by NASA scientists and it’s located in a region called Murray Ridge which lies along the wall of the Endeavor crater where Opportunity is spending its Mars Winter vacation.

Opportunity’s mounted robot arms were able to examine the object and found out that it contains twice the amount of magnesium than any other object opportunity-rockpreviously discovered on Mars.   It’s also very high in sulfur.

There are two working theories as to how this object got in front of Opportunity.  The first one is that it is debris from an impact crater that was nearby and it just happened to have landed and settled down in front of the rover.  The second suggests that it is just a rock that Opportunity kicked up on a recent drive.

Most NASA scientists say that the second theory is probably the more likely one.

Opportunity has been exploring Mars since January of 2004 and this new discovery is just another example of all the surprises that the Red Planet keeps presenting to us.

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