Jelly Donut rock on Mars: Mystery solved, scientists say

This composite image provided by NASA shows before and-after images taken by the Opportunity rover. At left is an image of a patch of ground taken on Dec. 26, 2013. At right is in image taken on Jan. 8, 2014 showing a rock shaped like a jelly doughnut that had not been there before. The space agency said the rover Opportunity likely kicked up the rock into its field of view. Opportunity landed on Mars in 2004 and continues to explore. (AP Photo/NASA)

February 17, 2014 6:46:03 AM PST
The "jelly donut" rock that seemed to appear out of nowhere on Mars last month did not fall out of an extraterrestrial pastry box, CNN reports.

The intriguing Martian rock -- dubbed the "jelly donut" because it's white on the outside with a red center -- was photographed by NASA's Opportunity rover. The rock, more than 1.5 inches wide, was officially named Pinnacle Island.

NASA scientists said it was "unlike anything we have seen before," but they definitely determined it to be a rock.

That didn't satisfy everyone.

A neuropsychologist and author named Rhawn Joseph decided to sue NASA for failing to investigate the rock, which he believed could be a "mushroom-like fungus."

Part of the controversy is in the rock's timing. It appeared in an image taken January 8, but it was not in an image of the same patch of ground taken December 26.

NASA initially offered a few possible explanations for this, but the real answer has finally been revealed.

So where did it come from?

Drumroll please:

According to CNN, researchers now say Pinnacle Island is a piece of a larger rock, which Opportunity broke and moved with its wheel in early January. Further images from the rover reveal the original rock that the rover's wheel must have struck.

We haven't seen a response yet from Joseph.

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