Wait… that rock wasn’t there on Mars just a while ago! (UPDATE: Boffins ARE baffled)

There’s been an ongoing parade of weird looking rocks found on Mars courtesy of the Rover camera. But this is a little different. Mystery Rock ‘Appears’ in Front of Mars Rover : Discovery News.

In a comparison of recent photographs captured by the rover’s panoramic camera, or Pancam, on sol 3528 of the mission, only bare bedrock can be seen. But on sol 3540, a fist-sized rock had appeared (raw Pancam images can be found in the mission archive). MER scientists promptly nicknamed the object “Pinnacle Island.”

“It’s about the size of a jelly doughnut,” Squyres told Discovery News. “It was a total surprise, we were like ‘wait a second, that wasn’t there before, it can’t be right. Oh my god! It wasn’t there before!’ We were absolutely startled.”

But the rover didn’t roll over that area, so where did Pinnacle Island come from?

The “boffins” aren’t exactly “baffled” about it. They are rather excited. Speculation is that the Rover turned it over, it rolled into view, or it landed there from above. The failure of one of the steering actuators suggests that it the Rover made the piece mobile after which it fell into view. They named the rock Pinnacle Island and are eager to study it since it’s a side of Mars, they didn’t see before – the underside of a rock. It’s quite shiny.

pinnacle island mars rock
More:

Mysterious rock appears near Mars rover Opportunity — RT News.

What’s that? New rock in Mars rover photos baffles scientists, fans – Houston Chronicle.

UPDATE (21-Jan-2014) Ok, I guess they ARE baffled.

“It’s like nothing we’ve ever seen before,” he said. “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.

“I don’t know what any of this means. We’re completely confused, and everyone in the team is arguing and fighting (over what it means).

via Nasa says ‘doughnut rock’ on Mars is ‘like nothing we’ve ever seen before’ – BelfastTelegraph.co.uk.

  9 comments for “Wait… that rock wasn’t there on Mars just a while ago! (UPDATE: Boffins ARE baffled)

  1. Lagaya1
    January 17, 2014 at 4:40 PM

    Obviously a cow patty.

  2. Bob
    January 17, 2014 at 4:46 PM

    Space cow.

  3. January 17, 2014 at 6:09 PM

    I’ve being telling Brits for ages it’s the Clangers’ planet. I’m waiting for shots of the soup dragon & the iron chicken. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wfsMZKwqw3w .

  4. Brian
    January 18, 2014 at 6:10 AM

    “They named the rock Pinnacle Island and are eager to study it since it’s a side of Mars, they didn’t see before – the underside of a rock.” They do not have the ability to manipulate rocks? Wha? This thing cost how much, and there’s no arm to grab things??

    • Blargh
      January 19, 2014 at 3:50 PM

      They do not have the ability to manipulate rocks? Wha? This thing cost how much, and there’s no arm to grab things??

      An arm that has to function in temperatures down to -100 °C, in dust storms, on another planet, without any unintended interactions with the rest of the rover or mission. On a system where every gram of mass counts, so every bit of gear on board needs to prove its priority over other possibilities.

      Oh, and there’s a steadily shrinking budget, so it can’t be too expensive to develop, build and test either.

  5. 46xy
    January 18, 2014 at 10:33 AM

    I’m guessing their is a decline from bottom to top of the picture and the rock rolled into that spot. If you compare the area in the center bottom of the photo it looks like the gravel was disturbed.

  6. Lagaya1
    January 19, 2014 at 2:23 PM

    They noticed that and missed the little alien mooning them at the 10 o’clock position? Or maybe that’s a coffee bean…

    • Lagaya1
      January 19, 2014 at 2:28 PM

      ( I do realize that we’re the aliens in this situation. And how cool is that?)

  7. Max
    January 24, 2014 at 11:42 AM

    Colbert nailed it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *