News / Science & Technology

Mystery White Rock Inexplicably Appears Near NASA Mars Rover

The images are from Opportunity's panoramic camera (Pancam). The one on the left is from 3,528th Martian day, or sol, of the rover's work on Mars (Dec. 26, 2013). The one on the right, with the newly arrived rock, is from Sol 3540 (Jan. 8, 2014). ( NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell Univ./Arizona State Univ.)
The images are from Opportunity's panoramic camera (Pancam). The one on the left is from 3,528th Martian day, or sol, of the rover's work on Mars (Dec. 26, 2013). The one on the right, with the newly arrived rock, is from Sol 3540 (Jan. 8, 2014). ( NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell Univ./Arizona State Univ.)
Reuters
Scientists are stumped as to how a rock mysteriously appeared in images taken two weeks apart by NASA's Mars rover Opportunity.

The rover, which landed in an area known as Meridiani Planum a decade ago, is exploring the rim of a crater for signs of past water.

Another rover, Curiosity, touched down on the opposite side of the planet in 2012 for a more ambitious mission to look for past habitable environments. For the moment, however, scientists are pondering a more immediate question.

On Jan. 8, while preparing to use its robotic arm for science investigation, Opportunity sent back a picture of its work area.

Oddly, it showed a bright white rock, about the size of a doughnut, where only barren bedrock had appeared in a picture taken two weeks earlier. Scientists suspect the rock was flipped over by one of the rover's wheels.

It also may have been deposited after a meteorite landed nearby.

Either way, the rock, dubbed "Pinnacle Island" is providing an unexpected science bonus.

"Much of the rock is bright-toned, nearly white," NASA said in a statement on Tuesday. "A portion is deep red in color.

Pinnacle Island may have been flipped upside-down when a wheel dislodged it, providing an unusual circumstance for examining the underside of a Martian rock."

You May Like

Unpaid Kurdish Fighters Sign of Economic Woes

Sharp cuts in Kurdistan's budget by Baghdad, falling oil revenue, coping with refugees, inflated public sector have hit regional economy hard More

Koreas Exchange List of Envoys for Family Reunion Talks

Officials will discuss date, venue and number of participants for reunion; Seoul hopes to hold event late this month More

China Targets 197 in Online Speech Crackdown

Nearly 200 punished for 'spreading rumors' online in ongoing crackdown on free speech More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: mike from: Arizona
January 31, 2014 11:00 AM
It looks like a new life form, similar to the anemones found around the deep ocean 'Black Smoker" vents. This one would have to be made from a sulfur/magnesium base. Or use such chemicals as a food or heat source.

by: gary from: United Kingdom
January 25, 2014 9:44 PM
"Quadrata Martis", latin for the squares of Mars...
have a look at this latest discovery as its probably
now the biggest new mystery of Mars imaging.(click below)
http://gigapan.com/gigapans/148682

by: Gigi from: Denver
January 25, 2014 2:18 AM
Between 8 and 9 o'clock, in the after picture, you can see the edge of an object of similar color to the rock. I would assume it's not apart of opportunity because the article says that it took the picture as it was Preparing it's workspace. Meteor debris? It just landed and fell perfectly into the bedrock without disturbing a single rock nearby? Sounds very fishy.

by: Stephen from: Jarrow, UK
January 24, 2014 12:49 PM
It's obvious, some Martian kids where throwing stones at the scary alien who's landed on their planet.

by: oldsalt from: Portland, Oregon
January 23, 2014 6:02 PM
It appears that it may be a simple crystal formation. I have observed this many times on the damp cement walls of basements in the Pacific northwest USA. Chemicals in the cement would come out of the wall and form a circle of material on the cement that looked very much like that in the photo. "Dampness", ie the availability of martian water has been established. I am surprised that this has not been at least mentioned, even dismissively.

by: Norb from: Brazil
January 23, 2014 9:03 AM
Doesnt make sense for dry ice to have formed over a single nucleation point on a relatively wide area like that.

by: dante from: pa
January 23, 2014 8:29 AM
is it part of the rover? some part that flaked off? and who made the brick road?
In Response

by: ETHERHEAD from: USMN
January 30, 2014 11:51 PM
Why not wind blown remains of Soviet Mars2/3 crashed/lost or Viking parachute/rocket wadding? There appears a small led/aluminum blue(atmospheric reflection of) lens flare that is to "Hot" for the weak luminescence-quash digital sensor also.

by: Nicolas from: California
January 22, 2014 9:40 PM
At pressures below 5.13 atm and temperatures below −56.4 °C (−69.5 °F) (the triple point), CO2 changes from a solid to a gas with no intervening liquid form, through a process called sublimation. The opposite process is called deposition, where CO2 changes from the gas to solid phase (dry ice)

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisisi
X
Lisa Bryant
September 02, 2015 6:19 PM
Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisis

Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Russia-Japan Relations Cool as Putin Visits China for WWII Anniversary

Russian President Vladimir Putin is in Beijing for commemorations of the 70th anniversary of China's WWII victory over Japan. Putin is expected to visit Japan later this year, but tensions between Tokyo and Moscow over islands disputed since the war, and sanctions over Ukraine, could pour cold water on the plan. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Kurdish Fighters on IS Frontline Ready for Offensive

Finger on the trigger, the Kurdish Peshmerga soldier stared across the dust at a village taken over by Islamic State extremists. The Kurdistan’s Khazir frontline, just 45 minutes from the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul. And at this point, the militants were less than two kilometers away. VOA's Sharon Behn reports.
Video

Video Yemen ‘on Brink of Disaster’ as Medical Shortages Soar

Aid agencies warn Yemen is on the brink of humanitarian disaster – with up to half a million children facing severe malnutrition, and hospitals running out of basic medicines. There are fears Yemen's civil war could escalate as the coalition led by Saudi Arabia tries to drive back Houthi rebels, who seized control of much of the country earlier this year. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Apps Helping Kenyan Businesses Stay Ahead of Counterfeiters

Counterfeit goods in Kenya cost the government as much as $1 billion each year in lost tax revenues. The fake goods also hurt entrepreneurs who find it hard to carve out a niche in the market and retain customers. But as Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi, information technology is being used to try to beat the problem.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.

VOA Blogs