We all love a good mystery, but to be honest, many of us enjoy it even more when a mystery’s finally solved. The “jelly doughnut” Mars rock that mysteriously appeared in front of the Opportunity Rover on January 8 turns out to be a piece of a larger rock broken and moved by the rover’s wheels earlier that month.
The original rock, dubbed Stuart Island rests about 3 feet (1-meter) away and has a similar dark-red center and white edge as Pinnacle Rock.
“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. “We drove over it. We can see the track. That’s where Pinnacle Island came from.”
Researchers used the microscopic imager and alpha particle X-ray spectrometer on Opportunity’s robotic arm to examine Pinnacle Island for several days in January. The rock is unusual in that it contains high levels of elements such as manganese and sulfur, suggesting these water-soluble ingredients were concentrated in the rock by the action of water.
There you have it. Now it’s time to move on to the next mystery: Why do people sue NASA for delusional claims of alien life on Mars?