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The Perseverance rover found a “doughnut with a hole” on Mars. NASA showed the photo

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The Martian rover Perseverance took a photo that shows a rock with a circular hole in the center on the surface of the Red Planet. Scientists have different hypotheses about where the donut-shaped rock comes from.

The photo was taken on June 23. The rover photographed a rock about 100 meters away in the Jezero crater delta.

“He did not approach it to study it, so the composition and origin of the rock remain unknown,” said Jim Rice of Arizona State University, a member of the science team behind the Mastcam-Z camera system, one of the rover’s instruments.

A rock from space or from another region of the planet? hypotheses

As the scientist stated, “I can’t say with absolute certainty that it’s not a meteorite, but I think it’s highly unlikely.” He explained that in the region where the rock was found, there are many others of a similar shape. He added that the typical rocks in the area are sedimentary sandstones that are probably several billion years old. “They were brought by the large Neretva Vallis river channel,” he said. According to him, the rock was probably transported in this way from another region. He added that it is more than 25 centimeters wide, but its exact dimensions are not known.

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How was the hole created? According to a specialist from Arizona State University, another, smaller rock could have been embedded in the middle of the rock, which was then eroded. “Scientifically, it’s nothing special,” said Rice.

An image of an unusually shaped rock, taken on June 23NASA/JPL-Caltech/LANL/CNES/IRAP

According to Pascal Lee, a planetary scientist at the SETI Institute, the rock imaged on June 23 may be a meteorite, given previous observations of meteorites on Mars and the planet’s proximity to the asteroid belt.

The rock is surrounded by smaller rocks or fragments, which is why, Lee said, “perhaps it is a meteorite that disintegrated during the fall.” He explained that the specific shape could have been formed by the erosion of the weaker materials that make up the rock after it entered the Red Planet’s atmosphere. In his opinion, it is also possible that the rock was “ejected from another part of Mars by the impact of a large asteroid.”

Mars rover PerseverancePAP/AFP/Adam Ziemienowicz/Maciej Zieliński

Other finds

Finding a meteorite on the surface of the Red Planet would also not be surprising. Perseverance spotted the potential meteorite just weeks after landing in February 2021. The Curiosity rover has discovered many space rocks on Mars since it landed in August 11 years ago, including meteorite named cocoa in February this year.

Lee recalled that in 2014, the Opportunity rover found a small rock on Mars that was white on the outside with a red interior. Scientists compared it to a jelly donut.

Read also: Curiosity rover found ‘book’ on Mars

CNN, space.com, tvnmeteo.pl

Main photo source: NASA/JPL-Caltech/LANL/CNES/IRAP

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