Mars Rover Scientists Baffled By Mystery Rock

Mars Rover Scientists Baffled By Mystery Rock

Mars rock

A mysterious rock has suddenly appeared in front of the Mars rover Opportunity, but where could it possibly have come from?

On Sol 3528, the Mars rover Opportunity captured an image of a small segment of the Martian surface. Twelve days later, on Sol 3540, a second image of the same area was taken - and this one was different. A rock, about the size of a jelly donut, had suddenly appeared in front of the rover.

"It was a total surprise, we were like, 'Wait a second, that wasn't there before, it can't be right'," Mars Exploration Rover Lead Scientist Steve Squyres of Cornell University told Discovery. "'Oh my god! It wasn't there before!' We were absolutely startled."

There are currently two theories about the origin of the rock, dubbed "Pinnacle Island" by scientists: That it was knocked or flipped there by Opportunity, or that it was cast off from a nearby meteorite strike. The former is considered the more likely of the two, since Opportunity's front right steering actuator is no longer working, making it likely to disturb the ground during maneuvers.

"So my best guess for this rock ... is that it's something that was nearby," Squyres said. "I must stress that I'm guessing now, but I think it happened when the rover did a turn in place a meter or two from where this rock now lies."

There is of course a third theory that daring minds are willing to consider: Martians! Seriously, think about it: What better way to mess with those boneheaded humans who keep running across your lawn with their stupid RC toy than booting a rock in front of its camera and then running away while they try to figure out where it came from? It's like an interplanetary ring-and-run!

Mission scientists hope to study the rock, which Squyres said is "obligingly turned upside-down, so we're seeing a side that hasn't seen the Martian atmosphere in billions of years," and the investigation into its actual origin is also ongoing and expected to be complete within a few days.

Source: Discovery

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Knowing the Martians, this is the sort of joke they would play. They know full well they aren't allowed to appear on human cameras, so of course one prankster would throw a rock in when no-one was looking. Wonder if they'll find out who did it in the end.

JoJo:
Knowing the Martians, this is the sort of joke they would play. They know full well they aren't allowed to appear on human cameras, so of course one prankster would throw a rock in when no-one was looking. Wonder if they'll find out who did it in the end.

I was wondering the same thing. Lots of years ago when they were finally forced underground to survive, most likely huddled around underground water sources, they forbade surface travel, butnof course every once and a while someone goes up, especially lately with our rovers poking around. I'm wondering if it's a capital offense there. But perhaps it was more than a prank, but a cry for help from a Martian scientist. Imagine a strictly regimented xenophobic society that is crumbling from within, and the scientists KNOW that earthlings are close by, but aren't allowed to disseminate that information.. But they're dying, so a desperate scientist does whatever he can to call attention to their existence, hoping that earthlings might save the Martians.

Wow, those obelisks from '2001' really did oversell them. They are much more disappointing looking in real life.

It simply is... the power of rock.

(ba-dum-ts)

Maybe it's all a cryptic teaser for a Martian Manhunter movie? Starring Matt Damon in the lead role...

Slow news day on Mars, eh?

Given the slight variations between the pictures, I am going with the mysterious 'wind' of Mars.

Did the entirety of NASA forget that rocks can be moved by wind?

VoidWanderer:

Did the entirety of NASA forget that rocks can be moved by wind?

Not at 60 km/h (top recorded speed) it doesn't, and not without disturbing anything else. At least I hope so. I would hate to think that some bloke on the internet (you) just figured out what our "top minds" can't.

Hope it turns out to be HL3.

Considering there are moving rocks here on Earth that scientists cannot quite figure out having them on other planets is all we need.

Maybe the Rock is the Martian?

I Think there was a wind storm just right outside the Rovers range and it blew the rock in a way that it made it land right there, in front of the Rover.

Clowndoe:

VoidWanderer:

Did the entirety of NASA forget that rocks can be moved by wind?

Not at 60 km/h (top recorded speed) it doesn't, and not without disturbing anything else. At least I hope so. I would hate to think that some bloke on the internet (you) just figured out what our "top minds" can't.

I thought Mars had a lighter gravity than Earth, so the speed wouldn't need to be as high. My bad, I guess for making an assumption.

Pfft, the chances of anything moving on Mars are a million to one.

Either Rover kicked it or it was tossed by a small far off impact... makes sense.

J Tyran:
Considering there are moving rocks here on Earth that scientists cannot quite figure out having them on other planets is all we need.

http://www.livescience.com/37492-sailing-stones-death-valley-moving-rocks.html A very simple experiment using conditions that can match the winter in death valley seems to explain the rock movement quiet well.

So, the news today is "Either the steering flipped something up, or the Martians are assholes."

Me55enger:
Pfft, the chances of anything moving on Mars are a million to one.

....I GET IT!

Me55enger:
Pfft, the chances of anything moving on Mars are a million to one.

But still, they move.

VoidWanderer:

I thought Mars had a lighter gravity than Earth, so the speed wouldn't need to be as high. My bad, I guess for making an assumption.

Yep, about 1/10th Terra's gravity. Still, 1/10 of a jelly doughnut is pretty big for the wind to move.

Clowndoe:

VoidWanderer:

I thought Mars had a lighter gravity than Earth, so the speed wouldn't need to be as high. My bad, I guess for making an assumption.

Yep, about 1/10th Terra's gravity. Still, 1/10 of a jelly doughnut is pretty big for the wind to move.

Not only that but the martian atmosphere is 166 times thinner or 0.6% of Earth's mean sea level pressure.

Mr.Mattress:
Maybe the Rock is the Martian?

God, I hope not.

(Yes, it was a terrible film. That doesn't mean the premise isn't creepy as all hell anyway.)

Okay, now we need to send another probe called Obligatory, which would be a bigger and even-more-thorough probe than Curiosity and Opportunity.

Andy Chalk:
...about the size of a jelly donut...

A JELLY DONUT?! Is chow allowed on Mars, Private Pyle?!

But seriously though, yay rocks. But not yay broken steering actuators, 'cuz that kinda makes things difficult, doesn't it? Oh well.

I'm leaning towards Mudcrabs myself. The damned things are everywhere.

I think Opportunity just got jealous of Curiosity and put it there on purpose so he(?) can be in the limelight again.

Pandaman1911:

Andy Chalk:
...about the size of a jelly donut...

A JELLY DONUT?! Is chow allowed on Mars, Private Pyle?!

But seriously though, yay rocks. But not yay broken steering actuators, 'cuz that kinda makes things difficult, doesn't it? Oh well.

Great. Now I'm envisioning a NASA mission scientist looking at the monitor and saying, "Ho-lee Jesus. What is that? WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT?"

As for the actuator, it is an unfortunate breakdown but bear in mind that Opportunity landed on Mars in January 2004 and had a planned lifespan of 90 Martian days, which (by my calculations) is a little over 100 Earth days. It's now approaching ten Earth years and still getting work done, which is absolutely phenomenal and almost certainly far beyond the dreams of even the most optimistic NASA scientists. It'll be a loss when it is finally lost, but we've already got more from it than we had any reasonable right to expect.

J Tyran:
Considering there are moving rocks here on Earth that scientists cannot quite figure out having them on other planets is all we need.

except, they already did:

http://www.livescience.com/37492-sailing-stones-death-valley-moving-rocks.html

it gets fucking cold in the desert at night..
----------

things that look like a rock and moves.

rhizhim:

J Tyran:
Considering there are moving rocks here on Earth that scientists cannot quite figure out having them on other planets is all we need.

except, they already did:

http://www.livescience.com/37492-sailing-stones-death-valley-moving-rocks.html

it gets fucking cold in the desert at night..
----------

things that look like a rock and moves.

Just another proposition amongst dozens of others, no proof or observation there either and it makes no mention of how the rocks move when conditions are different to those very specific conditions.

So nope they haven't figured it out yet, I could link a bunch of people claiming to have solved it too. Come back when someone can show repeated observations and can reproduce the effect, you know actual science.

J Tyran:

rhizhim:

J Tyran:
Considering there are moving rocks here on Earth that scientists cannot quite figure out having them on other planets is all we need.

except, they already did:

http://www.livescience.com/37492-sailing-stones-death-valley-moving-rocks.html

it gets fucking cold in the desert at night..
----------

things that look like a rock and moves.

Just another proposition amongst dozens of others, no proof or observation there either and it makes no mention of how the rocks move when conditions are different to those very specific conditions.

So nope they haven't figured it out yet, I could link a bunch of people claiming to have solved it too. Come back when someone can show repeated observations and can reproduce the effect, you know actual science.

oh, you mean like this?

"I love to sail forbidden seas, ..."
Herman Melville in "Moby Dick" (1851)

Strange tracks cover a muddy plain, located in a remote part of Death Valley National Park, named appropriately Racetrack-Playa. Most of these tracks end behind large boulders of dolostone or syenite, some however start and end without an apparent object nearby. In the first case, it seems reasonable to assume that the rocks moving along the ground formed the furrows - however nobody ever observed the actual process of formation.

The sailing rocks of Death Valley were studied since 1948, when geologists Jim McAllister and Allen Agnew mapped the area and noted the tracks. In March 1952 geologist Thomas Clement tried to observe the rocks moving, but a heavy thunderstorm forced him into his tent. Only the next morning he noted fresh formed tracks on the ground and a thin layer of water covering the ground. As most of the tracks coincide with the overall wind direction (southwest to northeast), it was assumed that the wind pushed the rocks over the wet and slippery mud. However this hypothesis could explain only a part of the moving rocks, especially the smaller ones. Curiously there is no correlation between the size of the rock and length of the track, even if it seems that larger boulders seem to travel less than smaller ones.

In the following years the strangest ideas tried to explain the mystery of Racetrack-Playa: extraterrestrials, geologists or animals pushing the stones, a hoax to fool tourists, earthquakes, magnetic or gravitational anomalies and unknown wind and water currents.

Geographer George Stanley Druhot (1914-1983) assumed a dominant role of ice, not only as slippery surface, but also as a sort of sail, when ice forms plates around the boulders and increases the surface on which the wind can act.

In 2010 a research team from various institutions (NASA, Slippery Rock University (!)- Pennsylvania, University of Wyoming) reanalyzed the geological and meteorological conditions at Racetrack-Playa, finding evidence to support Stanley´s idea. Geologist Paula Messina showed that the ground is covered by argillaceous sediments and bacterial mats, forming under wet conditions a very slippery surface. The climatic data showed also that ice can in fact form during wintertime in Death Valley, when also most tracks on Racetrack-Playa are formed. The ice hypothesis (and similar models) explains also the tracks without apparent object nearby, as the chunk of ice melted after the formation of the track, and the deepening of some furrows behind the respective boulder, as the plate of ice surrounding the boulder melts, the rock tends to sink deeper into the mud.

Most researchers agree that a simplistic - one factor assuming - model fails to explain all the sailing rocks. It´s probably the odd combination of mud and bacteria, forming a slippery ground, the topography, forcing the wind into one prevalent direction, the sizes of the boulders, the particular temperature changes experienced in Death Valley and the occasional formation of ice, that like a ghostly hand moves the rocks around the desert.

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0169555X13002481

http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/history-of-geology/2013/07/22/the-mystery-of-death-valleys-sailing-stones-solved-again/

rhizhim:

J Tyran:

rhizhim:

except, they already did:

http://www.livescience.com/37492-sailing-stones-death-valley-moving-rocks.html

it gets fucking cold in the desert at night..
----------

things that look like a rock and moves.

Just another proposition amongst dozens of others, no proof or observation there either and it makes no mention of how the rocks move when conditions are different to those very specific conditions.

So nope they haven't figured it out yet, I could link a bunch of people claiming to have solved it too. Come back when someone can show repeated observations and can reproduce the effect, you know actual science.

oh, you mean like this?

"I love to sail forbidden seas, ..."
Herman Melville in "Moby Dick" (1851)

Strange tracks cover a muddy plain, located in a remote part of Death Valley National Park, named appropriately Racetrack-Playa. Most of these tracks end behind large boulders of dolostone or syenite, some however start and end without an apparent object nearby. In the first case, it seems reasonable to assume that the rocks moving along the ground formed the furrows - however nobody ever observed the actual process of formation.

The sailing rocks of Death Valley were studied since 1948, when geologists Jim McAllister and Allen Agnew mapped the area and noted the tracks. In March 1952 geologist Thomas Clement tried to observe the rocks moving, but a heavy thunderstorm forced him into his tent. Only the next morning he noted fresh formed tracks on the ground and a thin layer of water covering the ground. As most of the tracks coincide with the overall wind direction (southwest to northeast), it was assumed that the wind pushed the rocks over the wet and slippery mud. However this hypothesis could explain only a part of the moving rocks, especially the smaller ones. Curiously there is no correlation between the size of the rock and length of the track, even if it seems that larger boulders seem to travel less than smaller ones.

In the following years the strangest ideas tried to explain the mystery of Racetrack-Playa: extraterrestrials, geologists or animals pushing the stones, a hoax to fool tourists, earthquakes, magnetic or gravitational anomalies and unknown wind and water currents.

Geographer George Stanley Druhot (1914-1983) assumed a dominant role of ice, not only as slippery surface, but also as a sort of sail, when ice forms plates around the boulders and increases the surface on which the wind can act.

In 2010 a research team from various institutions (NASA, Slippery Rock University (!)- Pennsylvania, University of Wyoming) reanalyzed the geological and meteorological conditions at Racetrack-Playa, finding evidence to support Stanley´s idea. Geologist Paula Messina showed that the ground is covered by argillaceous sediments and bacterial mats, forming under wet conditions a very slippery surface. The climatic data showed also that ice can in fact form during wintertime in Death Valley, when also most tracks on Racetrack-Playa are formed. The ice hypothesis (and similar models) explains also the tracks without apparent object nearby, as the chunk of ice melted after the formation of the track, and the deepening of some furrows behind the respective boulder, as the plate of ice surrounding the boulder melts, the rock tends to sink deeper into the mud.

Most researchers agree that a simplistic - one factor assuming - model fails to explain all the sailing rocks. It´s probably the odd combination of mud and bacteria, forming a slippery ground, the topography, forcing the wind into one prevalent direction, the sizes of the boulders, the particular temperature changes experienced in Death Valley and the occasional formation of ice, that like a ghostly hand moves the rocks around the desert.

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0169555X13002481

http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/history-of-geology/2013/07/22/the-mystery-of-death-valleys-sailing-stones-solved-again/

The "solved again" title says it all, yet another bunch of ideas that ignore how these rocks are still moving during the hottest and driest time of year when there is no ice or standing water.

Until they can do that these ideas have as much merit as the nutjob idea of aliens coming to Earth to move some rocks around in a remote desert.

Andy Chalk:

Pandaman1911:

Andy Chalk:
...about the size of a jelly donut...

A JELLY DONUT?! Is chow allowed on Mars, Private Pyle?!

But seriously though, yay rocks. But not yay broken steering actuators, 'cuz that kinda makes things difficult, doesn't it? Oh well.

Great. Now I'm envisioning a NASA mission scientist looking at the monitor and saying, "Ho-lee Jesus. What is that? WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT?"

As for the actuator, it is an unfortunate breakdown but bear in mind that Opportunity landed on Mars in January 2004 and had a planned lifespan of 90 Martian days, which (by my calculations) is a little over 100 Earth days. It's now approaching ten Earth years and still getting work done, which is absolutely phenomenal and almost certainly far beyond the dreams of even the most optimistic NASA scientists. It'll be a loss when it is finally lost, but we've already got more from it than we had any reasonable right to expect.

Oh right, I was thinking that this thing was the more recent rover that landed. Or maybe it's the ONLY rover that landed in a while, and I'm just really really really behind the times.

And yeah, I just remember saying "a jelly donut?" in my head, 'cuz that's kind of an oddly specific description, and of course that just popped into my head.

rhizhim:

J Tyran:

rhizhim:

except, they already did:

http://www.livescience.com/37492-sailing-stones-death-valley-moving-rocks.html

it gets fucking cold in the desert at night..
----------

things that look like a rock and moves.

Just another proposition amongst dozens of others, no proof or observation there either and it makes no mention of how the rocks move when conditions are different to those very specific conditions.

So nope they haven't figured it out yet, I could link a bunch of people claiming to have solved it too. Come back when someone can show repeated observations and can reproduce the effect, you know actual science.

oh, you mean like this?

"I love to sail forbidden seas, ..."
Herman Melville in "Moby Dick" (1851)

Strange tracks cover a muddy plain, located in a remote part of Death Valley National Park, named appropriately Racetrack-Playa. Most of these tracks end behind large boulders of dolostone or syenite, some however start and end without an apparent object nearby. In the first case, it seems reasonable to assume that the rocks moving along the ground formed the furrows - however nobody ever observed the actual process of formation.

The sailing rocks of Death Valley were studied since 1948, when geologists Jim McAllister and Allen Agnew mapped the area and noted the tracks. In March 1952 geologist Thomas Clement tried to observe the rocks moving, but a heavy thunderstorm forced him into his tent. Only the next morning he noted fresh formed tracks on the ground and a thin layer of water covering the ground. As most of the tracks coincide with the overall wind direction (southwest to northeast), it was assumed that the wind pushed the rocks over the wet and slippery mud. However this hypothesis could explain only a part of the moving rocks, especially the smaller ones. Curiously there is no correlation between the size of the rock and length of the track, even if it seems that larger boulders seem to travel less than smaller ones.

In the following years the strangest ideas tried to explain the mystery of Racetrack-Playa: extraterrestrials, geologists or animals pushing the stones, a hoax to fool tourists, earthquakes, magnetic or gravitational anomalies and unknown wind and water currents.

Geographer George Stanley Druhot (1914-1983) assumed a dominant role of ice, not only as slippery surface, but also as a sort of sail, when ice forms plates around the boulders and increases the surface on which the wind can act.

In 2010 a research team from various institutions (NASA, Slippery Rock University (!)- Pennsylvania, University of Wyoming) reanalyzed the geological and meteorological conditions at Racetrack-Playa, finding evidence to support Stanley´s idea. Geologist Paula Messina showed that the ground is covered by argillaceous sediments and bacterial mats, forming under wet conditions a very slippery surface. The climatic data showed also that ice can in fact form during wintertime in Death Valley, when also most tracks on Racetrack-Playa are formed. The ice hypothesis (and similar models) explains also the tracks without apparent object nearby, as the chunk of ice melted after the formation of the track, and the deepening of some furrows behind the respective boulder, as the plate of ice surrounding the boulder melts, the rock tends to sink deeper into the mud.

Most researchers agree that a simplistic - one factor assuming - model fails to explain all the sailing rocks. It´s probably the odd combination of mud and bacteria, forming a slippery ground, the topography, forcing the wind into one prevalent direction, the sizes of the boulders, the particular temperature changes experienced in Death Valley and the occasional formation of ice, that like a ghostly hand moves the rocks around the desert.

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0169555X13002481

http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/history-of-geology/2013/07/22/the-mystery-of-death-valleys-sailing-stones-solved-again/

The Pioneers used to ride these babies for miles!

OT :

This is Spooky. Almost, 2spooky...

I hope it's not aliens.

this is the same living creature that was hired to play in Apollo 18 movie. Its basically a sentient rock.

Gotta lose the majority of news from Mars these days, news about nonevents.

"Hey! We just discovered something amazing! Are you paying attention? Oh ok..... well it's really not a big deal at all and it's simple to explain... really boring actually, but thanks for looking our way!!!"

And yeah, I just remember saying "a jelly donut?" in my head, 'cuz that's kind of an oddly specific description, and of course that just popped into my head.

They know what lures people in.

Had it been the size of just a regular donut, no one would have bothered reading any further.

 

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