The Most Famous Rock On Mars..?


Well, at the moment “Pinnacle Island” certainly is! Although Mars enthusiasts had spotted it earlier, “Pinnacle Island” hit the headlines after MER PI, Steve Squyres, showed images of it and talked about it during NASA’s “Ten Years On Mars” celebration event, and after that the world basically went nuts about it. I’d already blogged about it here, of course, and put forward several explanations for how it could just have possibly “appeared” next to Oppy as it did, and by yesterday my images and speculations were all being used widely on media websites around the world, which is always a bit weird to see! 🙂

Here’s a new stacked image I’ve made of Pinnacle. I wonder how many sites will use *this* one without asking..?

registax Pinnacle Island b

Of course, inevitably the nutter brigade have jumped onto the Pinnacle Bandwagon, suggesting “alternative” (i.e. cuckoo) explanations for it. My fave so far is that it is a species of martian fungus which has sprouted next to Oppy. Um, ok… but why now? Ah, well, no, they don’t explain that, of course…

Are we actually any nearer figuring out what Pinnacle Island is, or where it came from? No, not really. Steve Squyres was very excited about it during the MER event, and is fascinated by its strange geology, and is particularly struck – and puzzled – by its levels of sulfur, magnesium and manganese.


Obviously there’s a lot more to come re. this headline-grabbing rock. More images and measurements will be taken over the next few days, and a clearer picture of its nature and background should begin to emerge. In the meantime, here’s something I’ve written about it. Well, it was too good a chance to pass up…


Where did you come from, little one?
That plate of rock was bare, I swear,
Then suddenly you were there,
Basking in the sunlight, right where
We would see you. Just sitting there,
Looking up at us,
Like Dug in “Up”,
Grinning, tail wagging and sweeping
The dust away as we gazed down at you
Wondering “What the..???”

So many theories whizzing around the Web
About your origin there’s almost no room left
For gifs of sleeping kittens’ twitching ears
Or Kim Kardashian’s rear.
Did you really fall from the sky?
A meteorite? Hmmm. Seems unlikely that
With all of Barsoom to choose from
You’d land barely a hand’s width away
From the most curious robot
On the planet, but who knows?

Others cry “Ejecta!”
Could they be right? Did you really fly
Here after being blasted from the ground
By some rock falling at the speed of sound
Out of the sky?
If so, a brand new crater lies nearby,
Surrounded by others just like you –
A second Christmas for geologists
Who would give anything to have the rover roll
Up to its jagged rim to see what hides within…

Perhaps you were simply tiddly-wink flicked here,
Kicked up by the rover itself
To fall a short distance away?
It’s possible. After all, unlike her brash big
Sister’s wounded wheels, increasingly ripped and torn
By a Banth’s raking claws,
MERB’s are still whole
And easily strong enough to scuff
A rogue rock up off the ground,
To be found nearby next Sol…

But I wonder… Had Opportunity looked up quickly
Would she have seen mischevious martian kids
Standing nearby, caught red (or green?) handed,
Frozen to the spot, ready to throw the stone?
Are they still there, hiding behind her,
Biding their time, daring each other to try again?

© Stuart Atkinson 2014

From my astropoetry blog.

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3 Responses to The Most Famous Rock On Mars..?

  1. Chris Martin says:

    Is there a photo of the ground before it appeared?

  2. Pingback: Allgemeines & Rosetta-Live-Blog ab dem 20. Jan. | Skyweek Zwei Punkt Null

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