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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

2/16/2014 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Odd-shaped rock merely broke off from larger rock

A rock that suddenly appeared on the surface of Mars, captured by the rover Opportunity, dubbed a "jelly doughnut" due to its unusual shape, had scientists scratching their heads. It just - was there, where it had not been four days previously. Sadly, for some, there was a logical explanation behind it.

A crushing disappointment for those who listen to certain talk radio shows in the wee hours of the morning, further images from the rover reveal the original rock that the rover's wheel must have struck.

A crushing disappointment for those who listen to certain talk radio shows in the wee hours of the morning, further images from the rover reveal the original rock that the rover's wheel must have struck.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

2/16/2014 (1 year ago)

Published in Technology

Keywords: Mrs, Pinnacle Rock, Opportunity, rover


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Lead scientist of the Mars Exploration Rover mission Steve Squyres described it as a white rock with a dark red low spot in the middle. The rock, more than 1.5 inches wide, was named "Pinnacle Island."

How'd it get there? Researchers now say Pinnacle Island is a piece of a larger rock, which Opportunity broke and moved with its wheel in early January.

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This comes as a crushing disappointment for those who listen to certain talk radio shows in the wee hours of the morning. Further images from the rover reveal the original rock that the rover's wheel must have struck.

"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," Ray Arvidson of Washington University in St. Louis said in a statement. "We drove over it. We can see the track. That's where Pinnacle Island came from."

The rover team now plans to drive Opportunity south and uphill to look at exposed rock layers on a slope.

Researchers say that the rock has high levels of manganese and sulfur, which may have been concentrated in the rock because of water.

"This may have happened just beneath the surface relatively recently," Arvidson said, "or it may have happened deeper below ground longer ago and then, by serendipity, erosion stripped away material above it and made it accessible to our wheels."

Opportunity weighs 384 pounds and measures about 5 feet in length and height, celebrating 10 years since its January 25, 2004, landing. Opportunity's twin, Spirit, landed on January 4, 2004.

Spirit stopped communicating in 2010, but Opportunity continues to reveal details about the Red Planet's former habitable conditions.

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