This is not the first time that the rover has encountered unusual shapes and patterns on the Red Planet, which often turn out to be examples of pareidolia – the psychological phenomenon of seeing familiar objects or faces in random stimuli.
However, this donut-shaped rock may not be a product of pareidolia, nor a natural formation of Mars. Scientists suspect that it is actually a fragment of a meteorite that crashed on Mars in the past.
The hollow shape and the smooth surface of the rock suggest that it was exposed to high temperatures and pressures during its entry into the Martian atmosphere, which melted and eroded some of its material.
The rock also stands out from its surroundings, as it has a different color and texture than the other rocks nearby. The other smaller pieces of grey rock next to it are likely to be parts of the same meteorite that broke off during the impact.
But what if this donut-shaped rock is not a meteorite at all, but an artificial object that was deliberately placed on Mars by some unknown intelligence? Could it be a sign of extraterrestrial activity, or a message for future explorers?
This may sound like a far-fetched scenario, but some researchers have proposed that Mars may have been visited or inhabited by ancient civilizations in the past, and that some of their artifacts may still remain on the planet.
They point to various anomalies and structures that appear to be artificial, such as the “Pyramids of Elysium”, or the “Monolith of Phobos”.
Of course, most of these claims have been debunked or explained by natural processes, and there is no conclusive evidence of any alien presence on Mars.