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Mars doughnut rock: Mystery 'doughnut rock' solved, NASA sued over 'discovery'

The Marsdoughnut rock,” which mysteriously appeared in photos in front of NASA’s Mars Opportunity rover in mid January, has been solved. And no, the rock was not dropped from a box of a dozen celestial pastries by a careless extra terrestrial.

NASA
This phot, released by NASA, shows where the strange (and now famous) "Doughnut Rock" was picked up by the Mars rover's treads.

According to a report from the AFP on Friday, researchers responsible for operating the rover said the rock, which because of its shadow and color resembled a doughnut, was flicked into view by the rover’s treads.

Of course, that plausible explanation didn’t stop Rhawn Joseph, an astrobiologist and author of numerous books on alien life, from filing a lawsuit with a California court alleging NASA and its head Charles Bolden are covering up what the rock really is – a “living organism,” claims Joseph.

In the suit, Joseph is demanding that NASA“take 100 high-resolution pictures” of the rock and “24 in-focused pictures using a microscopic lens,” then release all the photos to the public and give Joseph the credit for discovering life on Mars.

I say NASA buys the chap a box of jelly-filled doughnuts and calls it a day.

NASA calls the odd-shaped rock “Pinnacle Island,” and says it was stuck in the rover’s treads and eventually fell out. Using panoramic images, they were able to retrace the rover’s movements and determine the spot where the rock initially became wedged in the rover.

“Once we moved Opportunity a short distance away after inspecting Pinnacle Island, we could see directly uphill an overturned rock that has the same unusual appearance,” Opportunity deputy principal investigator Ray Arvidson of Washington University in St. Louis said in a statement. “We drove over it. We can see the track. That's where Pinnacle Island came from.”

The rover’s lead scientist Steve Squyres was the first to announce the discovery of the mysterious rock.

“It was a total surprise, we were like 'wait a second, that wasn’t there before, it can't be right. Oh my god! It wasn't there before!' We were absolutely startled,” he told Discovery News at the time.