NASA's Perseverance rover has photographed a curious donut-shaped rock on the Red Planet with a hole in the center. The stone stands out noticeably against the background of the surrounding landscape, however, next to it lie several smaller stones, obviously of the same type.
Representatives of the SETI Institute, engaged in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, believe that this stone could be part of a large meteorite that once fell on the planet.
Perseverance first spotted this potential meteorite weeks after landing on the planet in February 2021. But it is not the only prominent stone found on Mars. Another rover, Curiosity, has detected several meteorites on the planet since landing in August 2012. In January 2014, NASA's Opportunity rover found a rock that was white on the outside and red on the inside, and NASA experts compared it to a jelly donut.
The Curiosity rover recently also discovered an unusual rock on Mars, which is noticeably different from the surrounding soil, both in its smooth surface and in its gray color. Most likely, it was also part of a meteorite that fell on the planet long ago.
Perseverance explores the 45 km wide crater of Mars called Jezero, in which billions of years ago, most likely, there was a large lake and a river delta. The rover looks for signs of life that could have been here long time ago, and collects dozens of soil samples, which will later be examined on Earth.
Perseverance is assisted by the small Ingenuity helicopter, which was designed for 5 flights. But to date, Ingenuity has completed 51 missions to Mars, covering a total of 11.7 km.
All these studies are necessary for the organization of future flights of people to Mars. According to some NASA experts, the first human landing on Mars may occur in 2040.
SpaceX founder Elon Musk, however, believes that the first landing on the Red Planet could happen within the next ten years. Earlier, he said that the first cargo mission will go to Mars in 2022, and by 2050 a city with a population of 1 million people will be built there. It looks like he will have to adjust these forecasts a little.