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NASA: mystery of the Mars 'jelly doughnut rock' solved

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NASA announced on February 14, 2014 that the mystery of the so-called “jelly doughnut” rock that the Opportunity rover came upon on the Martian surface has been solved.

“Researchers have determined the now-infamous Martian rock resembling a jelly doughnut, dubbed Pinnacle Island, is a piece of a larger rock broken and moved by the wheel of NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity in early January.

“Only about 1.5 inches wide (4 centimeters), the white-rimmed, red-centered rock caused a stir last month when it appeared in an image the rover took Jan. 8 at a location where it was not present four days earlier.

“More recent images show the original piece of rock struck by the rover's wheel, slightly uphill from where Pinnacle Island came to rest.”

Even though the jelly doughnut rock did not turn out to be a strange life form, it is still interesting from a geological standpoint. It contains high levels of water soluble elements such as magnesium and sulfur, suggesting that the region where it lays once had flowing water.

The rock is the subject of a law suit brought by a fringe scientist who claimed that it represents evidence of life on Mars and that NASA is paying insufficient attention to that possibility.

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