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Did NASA really find a jelly donut on Mars?

Image: NASA/JPL/Cornell

Image: NASA/JPL/Cornell


Daniel Martins
Digital Reporter

Friday, January 31, 2014, 2:04 PM -

When this story first emerged last week, conspiracy theorists and actual scientists alike were salivating.

That pinkish-looking object in the right image raised a few alarms when it was detected by NASA's Opportunity rover - mainly because it wasn't there a few days ago.

Looking rather tantalizingly like a half-eaten jelly donut (the "half-eaten" aspect raises a whole raft of other questions), it was first captured on January 8, but that exactly location was regrettably empty of cosmic confections of any kind on December 26 last year.

As it happens, the boring explanation is it's most likely a normal rock that Opportunity knocked over with its wheels as it passed through the region.

For science fans, it's still very weird - a chemical analysis of the rock found it has about twice the amount of manganese ever found on the red planet before, as well as very high amounts of sulfur and magnesium.

Not a bad feat for Opportunity - unlike Johnny-come-lately Curiosity, which arrived on the planet in mid 2012, Opportunity has been trundling around up there since 2003, although its sister, Spirit, stopped transmitting in 2010.


ABOUT CURIOSITY: The rover celebrated its first full year on Mars back in August. Here's a look at five awesome things it did.


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