1. Mark Barrington

    Mark Barrington Active Member

    This isn't a conspiracy theory ... yet, but the Opportunity rover passed twice over the same spot on Mars, and the second time it was there, there was a new rock there, which had similar size and coloring to a jelly doughnut.


    This may have been kicked up by one of the rover's wheels in the previous transit, but there's no accepted explanation yet. I'm waiting for the conspiracy theories to form. It's certainly mysterious.

    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 21, 2014
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  2. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    Yeah, I haven't even bothered with that, as the official story is just that it got stuck on a wheel, and then fell off. All of which sounds eminently plausible.


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  3. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    And I think the "Donut" descriptor was mostly about size. This looks nothing like any donut I've eaten:
  4. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

  5. cosmic

    cosmic Senior Member

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  6. Pete Tar

    Pete Tar Moderator Staff Member

    Do they lack the ability to look underneath rocks normally?

    Even though it's appearance may have a simple explanation, they all seem to think it's highly abnormal though.

  7. Svartbjørn

    Svartbjørn Senior Member

    So.. the idea that Martian Cops dropped a jelly donut after giving the Rover a ticket for Vagrancy is out the door now huh?
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  8. Bruno D.

    Bruno D. Senior Member

    High sulfur, high magnesium, high manganese? Next generation chemtrails testing on mars anyone?
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  9. FreiZeitGeist

    FreiZeitGeist Senior Member

    Twitter-User @brownpau did a real nice animated gif from pictures made at different perspectives:

    and here it is:


    "It looks like a used tinfoil-cap!" ;)
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  10. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    Very interesting rock!
  11. cosmic

    cosmic Senior Member

    The rovers weren't designed to flip rocks over or peek underneath them. Since they're not controlled in real-time and instead execute pre-programmed commands, performing comparatively delicate tasks like that would be challenging even if there were suitable tools onboard. Instead, the MERs each carry a Rock Abrasion Tool, which allows them to grind away 5mm or so of a rock's exterior and analyze their internal composition (here's an animation of the process).
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  12. FreiZeitGeist

    FreiZeitGeist Senior Member

    Just searched for these Elements and... voila:


    The english version of this Wikipedia-entry is a "stub", the german version is much more detailed. Just copy this link to the Google-search-window of your broser and click "translate" for the first hit to get a translation into your language:


    This part seems to hit the point:

    German Original of this Wikipedia-article:
    google-Translation of this:

    These are strong hints for a meteorite. Most Experts calling this idea unlikely, but nobody knows how a Meteorite on Mars look alike. We know Meteorits on Earth wich are molten to iron by the thick atmosphere of the earth and we didn´t know how a meteorite on mars would look alike. Maybe this is just a "happy accident", that a Meteorit hitting mars landed before a rover. It seems unlikly but such "happy accidents" are happening.
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2014
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  13. cosmic

    cosmic Senior Member

    As of Monday the 20th (Sol 3552), Opportunity's Pancam again imaged the divot I'd posted earlier. I wonder if that's a promising explanation, and if it'll receive much attention in tomorrow's briefing.


    I'm also hoping some progress can be made to tone down the unnecessarily sensational headlines (e.g. Mystery white rock inexplicably appears near NASA Mars rover -- they forgot to mention that scientists are confused and baffled! :rolleyes: [Edit: I meant in the headline itself, but they just had to include it in the opening sentence]).
  14. Joe

    Joe Senior Member

    That was a good find I posted the image around on YT videos about the rock . I think they are just desperate to get people interested in Nasa again .
  15. cosmic

    cosmic Senior Member

    Doubtful; there would be vastly more interesting stories to cover if that were the intent.

    At most media outlets, you won't see the word "Mars" in the headlines these days unless it's accompanied by "life" or "mystery". Resorting to tabloid tactics shouldn't be necessary to attract readers. Drives me nuts.

    Leading with silly and misleading phrases like "scientists baffled" is another practice that needs to die out.
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  16. Mark Barrington

    Mark Barrington Active Member

    I would think that both the rock and the divot it was popped out from are going to be interesting, because the Rover doesn't get to look at unweathered surfaces very often. It's a nice happy accident. And it doesn't hurt that the rock is a little unusual.
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  17. cosmic

    cosmic Senior Member

    Also, tomorrow's briefing includes the resident program heavyweights, and hopefully will deliver a bit more substance than last week's anniversary celebration at JPL (an open-to-the-public event geared toward public outreach). I get the impression that the majority of popular articles written so far were reading a bit much into Steve Squyres' exuberant, lighthearted comments.

  18. cosmic

    cosmic Senior Member

    Squyres did touch on this during today's briefing. If anyone's interested, here's a link to the video -- the relevant section starts at 18:49.

    He stated that they haven't yet identified the spot from which the rock was jarred loose, and suspect it's presently hidden by Opportunity's solar array. They plan to maneuver the rover to get a better look at the situation. Sounds like it could still be consistent with the image linked previously.

    So much for being "inexplicable".
  19. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    Here's the relevant bit from the briefing:
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  20. Mark Barrington

    Mark Barrington Active Member

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  21. cosmic

    cosmic Senior Member

    Ugh. I was just reading through the suit on Popular Science. It's full of utter nonsense.

    Yeah, that'll surely go well. :rolleyes:
  22. Mark Barrington

    Mark Barrington Active Member

    That pleading is comedy gold. He's basically demanding control of the NASA mars rover group so that he can direct NASA scientists to do his bidding. He's also asking for the judge to give him credit for discovering the 'organism'. He's given it a name: 'Sol 3540'. Which isn't particularly clever or cool. He could have called it 'Duncan' which is in keeping with the donut theme.
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  23. cosmic

    cosmic Senior Member

    It's also not particularly clever to claim NASA didn't employ the MI. The image Mick posted in #4 (from Sol 3541) was captured on January 9th.


    This passage is also a gem:

    Sure, NASA has the magical thinking problem, not you. Got it.
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  24. cosmic

    cosmic Senior Member

    Ars Technica mentioned Joseph's attempt to sue NASA in 2012, which I'd missed (http://archive.is/Ncu8J). It contained a long list of breathtakingly ridiculous claims, including the allegation that "NASA has waged a terrorist campaign of lies, deceit, fraud, defamation, libel and slander, to discredit all discoveries which demonstrate the existence of extraterrestrial microbial and other forms of extraterrestrial life".

    After reading through that document, I suppose the new suit looks almost tame in comparison. :eek:
  25. cosmic

    cosmic Senior Member

    New images are available from Sol 3566 (February 4th), and it looks like Opportunity has moved. The rock is visible in this Navcam shot:


    The new Pancam images show a better view of the divot, which I think would appear in the above frame if the low-gain antenna weren't in the way:


    Edit: updated Navcam image (thanks, Skitch!)
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2014
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  26. Svartbjørn

    Svartbjørn Senior Member

    Wouldnt NASA want to dance around and scream at the top of their lungs that they found SOME form of life?? Seems to me that itd bring MORE money than hiding it. Not to mention all the fame and attention for the team that was on duty at the time of the discovery.
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  27. cosmic

    cosmic Senior Member

    Precisely. Such a discovery would result in a tremendous boost to NASA's funding for exploration and science operations, while spawning volumes of research and publications. The thought of scientists attempting conceal something of that magnitude is truly absurd.

    The equipment currently on Mars isn't capable of directly detecting life anyway -- the rovers simply weren't designed for that purpose. That unfortunately doesn't deter this small group of panspermia advocates from trying to continually project their pet ideas upon actual scientific finds.
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  28. Svartbjørn

    Svartbjørn Senior Member

    I whole heartedly agree. I know that the rovers have very specific equipment to check for signs of life, but if I recall I think its chemical analysis.. looking for amino acids or something along those lines that would be indicators that life did exist on Mars at one time.. even microbial.. but nothing like what this guy's asking for. If Im wrong Cosmic, feel free to correct me.
  29. cosmic

    cosmic Senior Member

    As a mobile geochemistry lab, the instrument package on Curiosity is more suited to that. Spirit and Opportunity were mainly geared for investigating Martian geology and past hydrology.

    If they're still around by then, I'm guessing the pseudoscientists in question will grow even angrier when results from ExoMars similarly dismiss their goofy notions.
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  30. cosmic

    cosmic Senior Member

    I'd tried assembling a couple of quick-and-dirty RGV composites of the scene just for the heck of it, but then discovered the pros had already beaten me to it.

    False-color image of the divot from Sol 3566 (posted above):


    Good view of Opportunity's influence on the terrain (Sol 3567):

    Photo credit: D. Savransky and J. Bell / JPL / NASA / Cornell / ASU

    I wonder if they're any closer to pinpointing the source. Looks like there are multiple possibilities they have to consider.
  31. cosmic

    cosmic Senior Member

    I just noticed that my guess in post #25 was wrong. After seeing new images from Sol 3571, the divot was already visible in the Sol 3566 Navcam shot, I'd just overlooked it.



    They've recently taken a closer look at Stuart Island; I wonder if there's any way our "mystery" rock originated in that vicinity instead or fractured off of something.

  32. Pete Tar

    Pete Tar Moderator Staff Member

    Is there a simple overview of how much area has been covered by this probe?
    Given that they call small rocks islands, once assumes it's quite a small area? I guess anything that stands out in any way is considered interesting.
  33. Jason

    Jason Senior Member

    I read an article about this a week ago and haven't heard anything else about it. Here is the article: http://www.smh.com.au/technology/sc...rock-intrigues-scientists-20140127-31hig.html. In the article Squyres states the following:
    So my question to those who are qualified to answer this; what is the significance of the elements discovered on this rock (sulphur, manganese, and magnesium), and why is it so different from anything they've ever seen before in the decade they've been on this planet. Did these rovers have the ability to manipulate rocks, like turn them over or move them around. Whats strange, and maybe I'm wrong in thinking this way, is there aren't any rover track marks near or around the divot. Based on the photos you guys so kindly provided, doesn't it look like the rover came across the photo from right to left or vice versa, and its hard to gauge length or size in these kind of photos, but its looks as if the wheels were at least a few ft from this discovery. He even states that it could've been knocked loose by the wheels and rolled into that position, but I can't see any marks in the ground to support that, and the ground looks like it's level. Could there have been a meteor event recently within the vacinity of the rover and possibly some rocks got kicked up? Just some questions I have about it. I'm excited to hear what NASA discovers, but wanted to know some of your thoughts..

    Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/technology/sc...-scientists-20140127-31hig.html#ixzz2t4x3h7HU
  34. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    Some maps here. Look like max 100m a day, typically a lot less, and often concentrating in a fairly small area.

  35. cosmic

    cosmic Senior Member

    Quite a bit! In ten years it's covered over 38km:


    A recent plot, from above:


    The rover has traveled maybe 15 or 20 meters since this graphic was assembled. It's nearing the winter solstice right now in Mars' southern hemisphere (February 14th), so the goal is to keep the rover oriented to make the most of the available sunlight. There won't be any large trips while power generation is at its seasonal minimum, but operations are planned to continue through the Martian winter without hibernation.

    Opportunity will eventually continue to work its way around the rim of Endeavour Crater since it's provided lots of interesting targets so far.
  36. Pete Tar

    Pete Tar Moderator Staff Member

    Wow it's been ten years already? Kind of thought it was more recent than that.

    ...Oh, that's Curiosity.

    It's kind of easy for them to get mixed up, for those of more casual interest.
  37. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    Yeah, my maps were from Spirit. :oops:
  38. cosmic

    cosmic Senior Member

    In that case, regarding your earlier question: Curiosity has traveled just shy of 5km to date.

    On another tangent, I just read that Opportunity was able to record another dust devil event on Sol 3566. Hopefully they'll post a movie soon.

    Spirit had successfully captured this in the past... what a neat sight.

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  39. cosmic

    cosmic Senior Member

    FYI: I have no qualifications here, I'm just a very interested amateur. ;)

    Larry Crumpler, one of the MER team members, wrote about this in a recent status report:

    (I think he intended to write "unusually high concentrations of elements".)

    Endeavour Crater is pictured from orbit in a post #35; it's quite substantial, with a diameter of 22km. It would be neat if the impact's heat energy is responsible for what's being observed in the surrounding rocks.

    No, that wasn't part of their design. (See post #11)

    Due to the variations in terrain, it's difficult to tell exactly where the rover has driven (and when) from the raw imagery alone; precise details will be available later. From what I can tell, it looks like Opportunity straddled the divot without driving directly on top of it, but I'm not completely sure. How much merit the divot idea has is unclear at the moment -- it looked like a promising explanation for the rock's original position earlier on, but I'm uncertain what to make of it at this point. Opportunity has the ability to pivot in place, so perhaps it was nudged from a nearby position during a maneuver. That might make more sense than it being "kicked" from a straight-line travel sequence.

    Hopefully it won't be too long before the team is able to post a comprehensive explanation.

    I think that's unlikely at this point.
  40. Pete Tar

    Pete Tar Moderator Staff Member

    It's surreal how we can see images from the surface of another planet, and have people on the internet bitching about what a waste of money NASA is and how incredibly boring and uninteresting it is.
    It's another planet! People's sense of wonder really has been eroded.
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