back to article Mystery 'doughnut' materializes in front of Mars rover: 'OH MY GOD! It wasn't there before!'

Scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory are puzzled by a mysterious rock that has appeared in front of the Opportunity rover, Curiosity's never-say-die older sibling. Opportunity rock Is someone – or something – screwing with NASA? "Mars keeps throwing new stuff at us!" NASA Mars Exploration Rover lead scientist …


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  1. The_Idiot


    ... but good ones. Heck, _great_ ones! :-) :-)


    the rock was either lodged in the rover on its ten-year trip and it fell off


    Ten. Year. Trip.

    I still get shivers when I read that. There's, like, a robot! On _Mars_! And we bloody built it! And it's been going and going and goingandgoingandgoingandgoingandgoingandgoing...


    Shivers. Really, really _great_ shivers. You go, little 'un! You rock!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      No it's a flaming turd.

      1. JeffyPoooh


        "Ich bin ein Berliner."

        Yes, I know.

    2. ~mico

      Re: Shivers...

      It might yet live to see its makers land, pick it up and put in a Mars History Museum...

      1. Tim Bergel

        Re: Shivers...

        I cant resist:

        1. Microchip

          Re: Shivers...

          I was waiting for that. That comic always makes me a little bit sad. Poor Spirit...

      2. hapticz

        retrieve the remains

        bring back the robot soldiers, it would be a good mission. as the first few human casualties on Mars would need to be re-interred on home soil as well. such a huge expense, and it doesn't even provide shelter of food for the existing homeless here on earth.

    3. Erwin Hofmann

      Re: Shivers...

      ... it's clearly a dogs poo ... shivers me when I think about it ... cheers ...

  2. ammabamma

    It is quite obvious

    One of the artists/gaffers/set engineers working on the sound-stage NASA uses to fake Martian rover footage (two buildings down from the old Lunar set) must have forgotten to pick up their lunch wrapper after breaking from tinkering up the rover.

    1. earplugs

      Re: It is quite obvious

      yeh, looks like a DQ cookie from a mall in downtown Pasadena.

      1. racer42

        Re: It is quite obvious

        It is quite obvious it's a jammy dodger!

    2. Grogan Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: It is quite obvious

      Thumbs up, not because I believe the lunar conspiracies, but because it was funny :-)

  3. Mephistro

    It's ejecta allright...

    ... but from the Haribo 'scandal'! Don't look for a smoking crater, look for a stinky one!

  4. Charles Manning

    Like, oh my god!

    Where do scientists, you know, like go to school these days?

    No wonder nobody takes scientists seriously any more.

    1. Killraven

      Re: Like, oh my god!

      All the credibility of journalists/bloggers/hacks who translate as "about the size of a jelly doughnut" to "jelly doughnut materializes".

      1. hapticz

        Re: Like, oh my god!

        that's called 'journalistic license', to extrapolate 'facts' from unfounded second or twentieth handed observations. it happens all the time, generates lots of 'click revenue' for struggling internet companies. the concept of God is another, has generated gobs of free food and cash for clever story tellers for eons also.

    2. Mark Simon

      Re: Like, oh my god!

      … and we were like, dude, where’s my donut and they were like no way and were were like yes way and they were like noooo way!!! and we were like yessss way!!! and they were like aaawesome!!! …

      1. NightFox

        Re: Like, oh my god!

        "… and we were like, dude, where’s my donut and they were like no way and were were like yes way and they were like noooo way!!! and we were like yessss way!!! and they were like aaawesome!!! …"

        Ooo, ooo, I know this one...


        1. steveking1000

          Re: Like, oh my god!

          I'm going to assume that was a War of the Worlds reference and claim my prize

          <hopeful that he has kept up for once, but fully expecting to be shot down in flames....>

      2. ZOS

        Re: Like, oh my god!

        "… and we were like, dude, where’s my donut and they were like no way and were were like yes way and they were like noooo way!!! and we were like yessss way!!! and they were like aaawesome!!! …"

        You know, it's not a donut, you know, don't blink, you know, Weeping Angel, you know, dropping, you know...

        Grrrrrrr... You Know...

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Like, oh my god!

      Like, dude, you're all, y'know, reductionist 'n' elitist, going all "science dissing," kinda, huh? Deny climate science much, 'winger?

    4. Amorous Cowherder

      Re: Like, oh my god!

      I'm glad I'm like not the only one, you know like, who got like really annoyed, you know about like what they said and stuff/

      "we were like 'wait a second, that wasn't there before"

      NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! We SAID! *slamming ruler on desk* We SAID! Repeat it after me. We SAID, not "we're like". We SAID!

      They could have made it worse and said, 'And like my colleague goes to me...". The use of "goes" instead of "said" really pushes my buttons!

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Rover droppings


    1. Ugotta B. Kiddingme

      Re: Rover droppings

      Pretty sure Marvin the Martian's dog was named K-9*, not Rover.

      And on a related note, if a (Martian) dog poops and no one is around to smell it, does it stink?

      * Perhaps that's where the Doctor got the name for his robotic companion. Or vice-versa...

  6. Killraven


    Perchance, is there a nearly hill from which it might have rolled down?

    1. Muscleguy

      Re: Gravity?

      Slid maybe, as it is nowhere near round enough to roll. Except there's a step up onto the rock pavement it is lodged on, difficult for a sliding object which would be more likely to come to a rest in the dusty stuff in between. There is also no trail from a sliding/rolling object visible which is why the ejecta or flipper from a wheel interaction is favoured.

      IOW the scientists ran your hypothesis through the bullshit meter and discounted it early in the process for the sort of reasons above. I am not a planetary scientist but that is how most scientists think or should think. They explicitly point out they discounted the idea of rock throwing Martians. That one would not have taken long.

  7. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Playing the Ball and not the Man Delivers a Great Game and in AI, Perfectly Matched Play.

    The team at JPL and NASA are serious-minded folk, so there was no mention of Martians deliberately playing mind games with us,....

    When such is a possible reality, is that then serious .... and a serious alternative virtual reality? And to continue to be inclined to ignore and decline to engage with what would be in such validating cases, a Viable Alien ProgramMING, does by default allow free foreign access by ignorant invisible stealth protocols, to mind games being played ... and Mind Infiltration Network Gamesplay and/or Mined Intelligence Networking Gamesplay.

    Real Spooky GCHQ Station XSSXXXX type stuff? :-) ..... which zigzags here, there and everywhere else, from the Wild Wacky West to the Erotic Exotic East? ....... although you may discover if one would ever be bothered enough to stir oneself out of stupor and inquire, that it be plausibly and extraordinarily well denied to all without a vital need to know, lest the IT terrify the animals and natives and cause panic and bewilderment in the madness and mayhem of that which media hosts and presents in its information packets as the realities to be experienced and enjoyed and endured. And that be perfectly understandable, for what fool would want to be dealing with spooked natives without a clue as to what be in front of them.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Playing the Ball and not the Man Delivers a Great Game and in AI, Perfectly Matched Play.

      Admit it Amanfrommars, it was you. You left them a present didn't you?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Playing the Ball and not the Man Delivers a Great Game and in AI, Perfectly Matched Play.

        Perhaps these posts are secret messages encoded by a spy or such? They are just pretending to post replies on this site?

        No? One could hope they contain some sensible messages...

    2. DanceMan

      Re: Playing the Ball and not the Man Delivers a Great Game and in AI, Perfectly Matched Play.

      Ming the Merciless sees what you did there, amanfromMars 1, and will brook no further taking of his Name in vain. You have been warned.

  8. hplasm

    Horta Droppings

    That is all.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's bigfoot, obviously

    They throw stones to advise people to "move on", rocks next mark my words.

  10. Barely registers

    If it moves again....

    then _that_ would be news.

    And then nuke it from orbit.

    1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

      Re: If it moves again....

      Unfortunately the last I knew we had no functioning nukes in orbit around mars for this eventuality. Please write to your local government representative to let them know that you do not approve of this lack of planning.

      However we do have a nuclear powered laser tank already deployed. ETA... errm, about 15 months.

      1. DropBear

        Re: If it moves again....

        "Unfortunately the last I knew we had no functioning nukes in orbit around mars for this eventuality." - Of course, that's what they want you to think...

        1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

          Re: If it moves again....

          Moving would not necessarily be mysterious. If something took a bite out of it that would have people running for the hills (or rather, have Opportunity slowly trundling up the nearest slope).

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's some kind of alien plant growing up out of the ground.

  12. Anonymous Custard

    Mission to Mars

    Hang on - on Mars donuts just materialise?

    I'm on the wrong planet!

  13. Neil 8

    Better pics here

    NASA kindly make all of their raw images for spirit/opportunity (and MSL) available to all for free & practically in real time.

    Opportunity raw images here:

    And a particularly good shot of the mystery object here:

    It's about time ESA did the same thing...

  14. Stephen Hunt

    Probably just shadows

    Looks like the two views are from slightly different aspects, and on the first picture a faint shadow can already be seen.

    My guess is that these are just shadows and that the landscape hasn't actually changed, the camera can now just observe the shadows.

    1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

      Re: Probably just shadows

      No, these images actually make a good stereopair where you can clearly see that this is a separate object and not a change in lighting...

      1. FrankAlphaXII

        Re: Probably just shadows

        Funny how every single time someone sees something weird on mars it winds up being "Shadows". The thing that gets me is that the images are from 12 Sols apart, if the rover had moved during that period then the hypothesis about the rover's wheels kicking out rocks is pretty plausible.

        This isn't the stupid "face" in Cydonia, which the SAR images/scans prove that its just a oddly shaped weathered hill. This is pretty clearly a rock that is resting right in front of the field of view. I would generally say that its been moved by wind, but IIRC Mars doesn't have enough atmospheric pressure to have strong enough winds to push rocks bigger than pebbles.

        Also if NASA had included a scale for reference, it would have been nice. If its the size of a pebble as opposed to the size of a doughnut, then hell, it very well could have been wind.

        That or amanfrommars dropped part of his breakfast. I'll bet there's an empty coffee cup about 50 meters away.

        1. Anonymous Coward

          Re: Probably just shadows

          It could, though a rare probability, be a part of a parachute etc. In which case the wind might be strong enough to move it. If the fragment was stuck on the rover (some foil or such like), then there is higher probability it would fall within viewing distance (and not just get blown to another part of Mars).

          But it could be a newly made crater from a small meteor. Could be mud from off the tires etc. When was the last time the hosed down the rover? 11 years ago?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Probably just shadows

      Using the two images in an overlay and flipping back and forth you can see a trace/aspects of the object in the first shot, so as Vladimir said its clearly the change of perspective + time of day that allows the shadow to be cast and thus illuminating the object (rock) in the second shot

  15. Mage Silver badge

    But, But

    Who laid the lovely rustic stone pavement?

    1. PeterM42

      Re: But, But

      Yeah - looks like my driveway, but with the grouting going a bit gravelly.

      I reckon the Paddies have been up there: "Would you loike yur driveway redone Sor? - Iv'e got a bit of Tarmac left over from a job up de road.""

  16. TRT Silver badge

    Das ist ein Berliner.

  17. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

    10 years ...

    Out of a planned 3 months. Hats off to the engineers!

    (the Barmah again)

  18. Dave 126 Silver badge

    One of the wheels is not working properly:

    Opportunity’s front right steering actuator has stopped working, so [NASA Mars Exploration Rover lead scientist Steve Squyres] identified that as the possible culprit behind the whole mystery.

    Each wheel on the rover has its own actuator. Should an actuator jam or otherwise fail, the robot’s mobility can suffer. In the case of this wheel, it can no longer turn left or right. “So if you do a turn in place on bedrock,” continued Squyres, “as you turn that wheel across the rock, it’s gonna kinda ‘chatter.’” This jittery motion across the bedrock may have propelled the rock out of place, “tiddlywinking” the object from its location and flipping it a few feet away from the rover.

    1. Anonymous Custard

      So it's a jam doughnut?


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