The Mars Rover Opportunity must have thought “at last, after 10 years of hard work I finally get rewarded for my efforts”. This wasn’t the case. In fact, Opportunity had discovered some more work for it to do. What looks like a jelly doughnut was in fact a rock, something which is seen a lot on Mars but this one is unique.
On 26 December 2013 the rover documented with its cameras the path it was on and didn’t notice anything in particular. Thirteen days later however, when Opportunity was in the same exact spot again there was suddenly a rock which wasn’t there before. First thoughts for NASA must have been whether or not humans are the only species with some sort of technology on Mars. After closer inspection they found that this was not the ordinary rock they usually find on Mars. The jelly doughnut look alike has high sulphur and very high magnesium contents. It also contains twice as much manganese than NASA usually finds in rocks on Mars. Scientists don’t yet know what this means but they are sure this will reveal more of Mars’ secrets.
The rock is now called Pinnacle Island and it was found along the wall of Endeavour Crater at a spot called Murray Ridge. How this particular rock got there is still a mystery actually and scientists can only theorise an explanation. They think that one of Opportunity’s wheels must have kicked it up and thrown it into the path of the rover where it could be spotted or another explanation could be that it was debris from a nearby impact crater and coincidently fell down in front of Opportunity. The more likely scenario is where one of the wheels clipped the rock. If this is the case then this could be a very interesting find because this rock likely laid in the same position for billions of years and now that it is turned over it can be examined and reveal some of Mars’ history. After some examination who knows, maybe, just maybe it could be a meteorite from a very distant planet.