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More Details About Mars Mystery Rock 180

Posted by samzenpus
from the getting-to-the-bottom-of-things dept.
First time accepted submitter GPS Pilot writes "Previous reports said the rock that suddenly appeared out of nowhere was merely 'the size of a jelly doughnut.' Now, a color image shows additional reasons for this metaphor: 'It's white around the outside, in the middle there's kind of a low spot that's dark red,' said lead scientist Steve Squyres. In the image, the object does stick out like a sore thumb amidst the surrounding orange rocks and soil. Its composition is 'like nothing we've ever seen before. It's very high in sulfur, it's very high in magnesium, it's got twice as much manganese as we've ever seen in anything on Mars.'"
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More Details About Mars Mystery Rock

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 20, 2014 @05:21PM (#46017891)

    .... See subject. I think the evidence speaks for itself.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by sqorbit (3387991)
      Since it was a rock that must have been thrown in front of the camera it has to be alien bigfoot. Bigfoot is known for throwing rocks.
      • Re:It's Aliens! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by icebike (68054) on Monday January 20, 2014 @06:00PM (#46018325)

        The experts think the rock was "Tiddleywinked" by the rover's own wheels while turning or maneuvering on the ground.

        One possible location where it might have come from is also pretty obvious when you get wider field photographs than the sensational press like so publish.

        For instance, Compare this is a wider field shot of the ares BEFORE the appearance:

        Pic 1: []

        To a wider shot of the area AFTER the appearance.

        Pic 2: []

        Notice that scuff mark in the lower left corner of the Pic 2, and find the same location in
        Pic 1. (Its diagonally down and to the right of the "bald eagle head shot" in Pic 1.)

        A little trench has been exposed, dirt turned over and some material is missing. A rock is clearly missing from this hole.
        Could the rock have been un-Marsed from this hole by a wheel, and thrown that far, landing it upside down such that we see an un-weathered surface? Not saying for sure this is where it came from, (hole looks a little small), but a simple widefield view will probably reveal similar candidate sources.

        I Hope JPL holds off on releasing any new imagery until the conspiracy nut jobs work their way into a screaming lather. The deflation is so much more fun that way,

        • Re:It's Aliens! (Score:5, Informative)

          by icebike (68054) on Monday January 20, 2014 @06:04PM (#46018365)

          By the way, to get a better size perspective of the rock, check out this show from the front Hazcam:


          You can easily see that this object could have been tossed by the wheels when you see the size comparison to the wheels.

          • by hawguy (1600213)

            By the way, to get a better size perspective of the rock, check out this show from the front Hazcam:


            You can easily see that this object could have been tossed by the wheels when you see the size comparison to the wheels.

            All I can see in that picture is a shadow of and armless Johnny Five [] from Short Circuit. How did he get on Mars, what happened to his arms, and why is he screwing with Opportunity?

          • A bit of dry ice forms in a crack in a stone and stays below freezing for a day or a million years before a rover tyre moves some soil and exposes it to the heat of the sun. The dry ice sublimates but instead of earth water's slow process of expanding and cracking a rock, sublimated dry ice occasionally pops a rock shard quite a long distance. Like pop-rocks.

            Pop rock manufacture (from Wikipedia): The candy is made by mixing its ingredients and heating them until they melt into a syrup, then exposing the mix

        • by g0bshiTe (596213)
          I counter instead of getting kicked up, which would imply either getting caught in the tread or slippage in traction throwing the rock, the rock rolled inside the wheel well and got carried on the inside of the hub and rolled back out and into it's new mystical resting spot.
      • Could it be a "pop" rock?
    • by LoRdTAW (99712)

      It may have been dropped by the Intergalactic Police when they checked up on the rover. Now we just have to keep a look out for Baby Fark McGee-zax. I hope we don't fail the test!

    • by Hatta (162192) on Monday January 20, 2014 @06:19PM (#46018545) Journal

      It's obviously the Illudium Q-36 space modulator.

  • by danbert8 (1024253) on Monday January 20, 2014 @05:27PM (#46017957)

    Maybe it's not a rock...

  • Dr. Squyres said the object is "like nothing we've ever seen before."

    The Mars rovers have examined thousands of rocks. If this were just some random rock kicked into position by one of the rover's wheels, it's highly improbable that it would also be "like nothing we've ever seen before."

    • That's because it's not a rock. It's poop, from a rock creature similar to the one Capt. Kirk fired his phaser on (can't remember which episode it was)

      • by camperdave (969942) on Monday January 20, 2014 @05:53PM (#46018237) Journal
        The Horta, from the episode 26, Devil in the Dark. Now, where are my 600 quatloos?
      • by g0bshiTe (596213)
        Dumbass you're thinking of Galaxy Quest.
    • But is it not a rock, or at a minimum, 'like a rock'? Have they never seen a rock before? Doesn't sound like they've been paying all that much attention to what that rover's been doing up there....

      [haven't commented on /. in 5+ years - but I saw your sig and had to check mine to see if they were the same... then I figured I'd say something]
  • by cold fjord (826450) on Monday January 20, 2014 @05:32PM (#46018011)

    Almost everyone has assumed that if aliens ever show up that it would be a big show: "We come in peace. Take us to your leader" Or, if not that, then something like, "We've been here watching for decades | hundreds | thousands of years." I don't think anyone ever considers it possible that an alien presence would be revealed by a prank to be followed by the intergalactic equivalent of Nelson's "Ha ha! []" or "You guys are a hoot! You're our favorite 4D TV show!" Well, it beats being eaten.

  • by gmuslera (3436) on Monday January 20, 2014 @05:33PM (#46018013) Homepage Journal
    Sometimes a rock is just a rock, could had ended there because winds, a chain reaction caused by the rover, even a small asteroid hitting the planet and spreading pebbles around is easier to happen than life forms moving it.
    • by cusco (717999)

      The Unmanned Space Flight forums have some better images than most you'll see on the standard snews sites. There are at least two rocks and some sand that has appeared in the image. That's on the uphill side of the rover, it's likely that this stuff rolled down the hill. What started it rolling is unknown, of course.

      • Re:Occam's (Score:5, Informative)

        by cusco (717999) <brian DOT bixby AT gmail DOT com> on Monday January 20, 2014 @06:10PM (#46018431)

        Link directly to the image. []

        And to the forum thread. []

        • by Zynder (2773551)
          That's what all the hullabaloo is about? It looks like a rock. It looks just like all of the rocks around it. Evidently the spectrograph claims it isn't made like the others but personally I would have just passed that one by. Guess that's why I don't make the big bucks.
          • by cusco (717999)

            They're rocks that weren't there the day before, **that's** what the hullabaloo is a about. It's not like Earth, where stuff is moving around all the time and a rabbit or squirrel could just randomly kick it into view. They have no idea how they got there, it's a shock that they saw anything move, much less a rock this big, ore for that matter two of them.

      • Our past? Quite a broad topic for this short conversation, but we'll share a key piece of our history with you.

        After we killed off the last Zebranky we faced an interesting dilemma.

        Should we proceed, and establish a culture which would advance in art, technology and social sophistication?...

        ...Or should we just go back into the forest and kick back and enjoy ourselves knowing that a Zebranky wasn't gonna jump out of a bush and eat us!

        Well, we DID go back into the forest.

        We stayed there for ab
    • If you look at numerous images, you can tell what happened with basic physics. Before the "magic" rock shows up, there is an image of a small protrusion which is a bit pointy, let us call it "horn" shaped for ease in dialogue. You can also see after the "magic" rock hows up, this point is moved from it's original location and is facing a different direction. So the "horn" shaped rock could have tiddly winked the bigger rock we are calling the magical "jelly donut" or it could have been part of the same r

    • by tgd (2822)

      Sometimes a rock is just a rock, could had ended there because winds, a chain reaction caused by the rover, even a small asteroid hitting the planet and spreading pebbles around is easier to happen than life forms moving it.

      The one thing it couldn't be is wind -- air is far too thin. Dust moves, but even in massive wind, bigger rocks wont.

  • by Billly Gates (198444) on Monday January 20, 2014 @05:33PM (#46018015) Journal

    With 1/3 the gravity of Earth I can see typical 80 mph winds carrying something as small as a doughnut

  • some poor martian is trying to figure out how to snatch his breakfast without the camera seeing him...
    • Or some dumbass Martian who nearly got the whole counter-surveillance team busted.

      Goddammit Marvin, put the Illudium Q-36 away... they're onto us.

  • It's very high in sulfur, it's very high in magnesium, it's got twice as much manganese as we've ever seen in anything on Mars.

    How much magnesium/manganeese is in the metal the skycrane/parachute that delivered curiousity to mars was made out of?

  • by Jason Levine (196982) on Monday January 20, 2014 @05:55PM (#46018259)

    So this rock moved when we weren't looking at it... Do you realize what this means? It's a Weeping Angel! Get that rover out of there now! (But don't look away. Don't even blink. Blink and you're dead.)

    • by Zordak (123132) on Monday January 20, 2014 @06:20PM (#46018559) Homepage Journal
      No, it's their cousin species, the Weeping Jelly Doughnuts, who are much less of a menace to the universe. Instead of zapping you back in time 80 years and feeding on your residual potential, they zap you back in time to last Tuesday, where you eagerly devour an unwitting jelly doughnut that will now never get a chance to zap you back in time to last Tuesday, thus creating a paradox and canceling its own existence. There's a reason they're all but extinct.
  • ... was writing a parking ticket for Opportunity and dropped his donut.

  • Just Michael Valentine Smith throwing rocks at the rover.


  • Oh come on... we all know that the mission controllers got bored and told the rover to do a few donuts when nobody was looking!

    Hell, you're hundreds of millions of miles from home -- there are no police -- who's going to give you a ticket for a bit of "sustained loss of traction" in the company's rover? :-)

    Then.... bugger! Forgot about the camera! Duh!

  • I'll put my money on it's being a discus lost in the last Olympics when a female Russian threw one so hard it left the stadium.
  • News Alert. Authorities in California are raiding Justin Bieber's home looking for evidence through his security videos of him throwing rocks at the Mars Rover Opportunity.
  • The only way to be absolutely sure that the rock was "flipped" by the wheel, is to run it over again (and again, and again) and see where it goes. I personally don't think it's likely. So it's either the result of vulcanism, or it's a meteor.

  • by madhatter256 (443326) on Monday January 20, 2014 @06:54PM (#46018915)

    If you look in the photo provided by CNN in the article, look at the rock which casts a shadow near the top left corner of the photo.

    That same rock is there in the newer photo with the donut-rock. Now, just look down a little bit and slight right you will see a darker spot that wasn't that dark in the earlier picture and it appears to cast a shadow. Therefore, there are more rocks (at least two) that weren't there before.

  • "Mom, the Mars Rover followed me home. Can I keep it?" asks the Martian kid while offering a jelly donut to the machine.

  • Comparison (Score:3, Insightful)

    by RdeCourtney (2034578) on Monday January 20, 2014 @09:05PM (#46020011) Homepage
    I've done a very quick animated gif: [] If you see the circled area, that looks like the area the rock has come from, probably flicked there by the front wheels?
  • by itamblyn (867415) on Monday January 20, 2014 @10:03PM (#46020447) Homepage
    The whole thing is being shot in a Hollywood studio. A night janitor was goofing around with the set and didn't put things back properly. Happens all the time.
  • I do a lot of brickwork in my damp basement, and Efflorescence was the first thing that came to mind. [] .
    a suitably "fluffy" pic
    http://www.retrofittingcalifor... []

  • If it moves again, KILL IT! (I grew up watching those movies...)
  • Man, that Lard Lad. . . one helluva throwing arm.

  • Red spore duststorms anyone?
  • Everyone keeps mentioning Star Trek, I'm disappointed no-one has mentioned the telepathic rocks from Blake 7 who could move to follow the sun.

    Now all we need to do is find a telepath and get them to Mars to ask the rock what it wants.

If you steal from one author it's plagiarism; if you steal from many it's research. -- Wilson Mizner