The rover, which landed in an area known as Meridiani Planum
a decade ago, is exploring the rim of a crater for signs of past
Another rover, Curiosity, touched down on the opposite side of
the planet in 2012 for a more ambitious mission to look for past
For the moment, however, scientists are pondering a more
immediate question. On January 8, while preparing to use its
robotic arm for science investigation, Opportunity sent back a
picture of its work area.
Oddly, it showed a bright white rock, about the size of a
doughnut, where only barren bedrock had appeared in a picture
taken two weeks earlier. Scientists suspect the rock was flipped
over by one of the rover's wheels.
It also may have been deposited after a meteorite landed nearby.
Either way, the rock, dubbed "Pinnacle Island" is providing an
unexpected science bonus.
"Much of the rock is bright-toned, nearly white," NASA said in a
statement on Tuesday. "A portion is deep red in color. Pinnacle
Island may have been flipped upside-down when a wheel dislodged
it, providing an unusual circumstance for examining the
underside of a Martian rock."
(Editing by Kevin Gray and Eric Walsh)
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