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Mars ‘doughnut’ rock mystery solved  : NASA says
Mars 'doughnut' rock mystery solved

Mars ‘doughnut’ rock mystery solved : NASA says

NASA researchers have confirmed that the oddly shaped rock that appeared on Opportunity’s cameras is a fragment from a larger rock broken by the rover’s wheel.

The small object suddenly popped up in pictures taken by the U.S. space agency’s decade-old rover. On Dec. 26, it was not there. On Jan. 8, it was. But what is it?

The explanation is somewhat prosaic. The 4-cm-wide rock with a white rim and red center, dubbed Pinnacle Island, is actually a piece of a larger rock that was broken and moved by Opportunity’s wheel in early January.

“Once we moved Opportunity a short distance, after inspecting Pinnacle Island, we could see directly uphill an overturned rock that has the same unusual appearance,” said Opportunity Deputy Principal Investigator Ray Arvidson of Washington University in St. Louis on Friday. “We drove over it. We can see the track. That’s where Pinnacle Island came from.”

The rock is unusual. A close examination with Opportunity’s spectrometer showed “high levels of elements such as manganese and sulfur, suggesting these water-soluble ingredients were concentrated in the rock by the action of water,” NASA said.


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