Monday, October 20th6.6°C
23836
23865

Scientists baffled by Mars mystery rock

The scientists behind NASA's Mars exploration mission are "completely confused" by the sudden appearance of a mysterious rock on the surface of the Red Planet.

During a briefing at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in California last week, Mars Exploration rover lead scientist Steve Squyres said the rock recently appeared, apparently out of nowhere, near the Opportunity rover.

"It's white around the outside, in the middle there's kind of a low spot that's dark red. It looks like a jelly doughnut," Squyres said of the rock photographed in a location where nothing had been 12 Martian days earlier.

"And it appeared, it just plain appeared at that spot and we haven't driven over that spot."

While Opportunity continues to investigate the composition of the mystery rock, Squyres said NASA's Mars scientists have two leading theories about where it may have come from.

"One is that we somehow flicked it with a wheel," he said, explaining that Opportunity had driven "a metre or two away."

While he suggested that's the more likely scenario, "The other is that there's a smoking hole in the ground somewhere nearby and this is a piece of crater reject."

Based on initial data retrieved by Opportunity's instruments, Squyres said the 'jelly' portion of the rock is, "like nothing we've ever seen before. It's very high in sulphur, it's very high in magnesium, it's got twice as much manganese as we've ever seen in anything on Mars."

The mystery is thrilling, he added.

"I don't know what any of this means. We're completely confused, we're having a wonderful time. Everybody is arguing and fighting... and that's the beauty of this mission."

The Opportunity rover, as well as the now "dead" Spirit rover, arrived on the surface of Mars ten years ago.

Opportunity continues to beam data back to Earth, despite being originally slated for a three-month mission.

COMMENTS WELCOME

Comments on this story are pre-moderated and approval times may vary. Before they appear, comments are reviewed by moderators to ensure they meet our submission guidelines. Keep it clean, keep it civil, keep it truthful, stay on topic and be responsible. Comments are open and welcome for three days after the story is published. We reserve the right to close comments before then. Comments that appear on the site are not the opinion of Castanet, but only of the comment writer.



Read more World News

23015


Recent Trending





23658

23850


21370



World Quick Links World Discussion Forum
United Nations
World Health Organization
UNESCO
World Trade Organization
NATO
European Union
The Commonwealth
Francophonie
Olympics
Google Earth


Member of BC Press Council


22700