Mars donut! Perseverance rover spots holey Red Planet rock (photo)

large black rock with a hole in its center sitting on mars' reddish-brown surface
NASA's Mars rover Perserverance snapped this photo of a possible meteorite on the Red Planet on June 23, 2023. This image, processed by Stuart Atkinson, is a refined view based on Perseverance's raw image data. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/S Atkinson)

NASA's Perseverance Mars rover has rolled up on a rocky donut that may have fallen from the sky.

On Friday (June 23), Perseverance snapped a photo of a big, dark stone with a hole in its center. The intriguing rock is surrounded by others of a similar hue, suggesting a common origin — one that may extend beyond Mars.

The donut rock "could be a large meteorite alongside smaller pieces," representatives of the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Institute in Mountain View, California said via Twitter on Monday (June 26).

Perseverance's raw image was spotted and processed by Stuart Atkinson, who posted a stunning view of the donut rock on Saturday (June 24).

Related: 12 amazing photos from the Perseverance rover's 1st year on Mars

large black rock with a hole in its center sitting on mars' reddish-brown surface

Another view of the donut-shaped rock on Mars spotted by the Perseverance rover on June 23. This image was processed from raw NASA data by Stuart Atkinson. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/LANL/CNES/IRAP processed by Stuart Atkinson)

A meteorite find on the Red Planet would not be unprecedented. Perseverance spotted a potential meteorite just a few weeks after its February 2021 touchdown, for example. 

And the rover's older cousin, Curiosity, has discovered a number of space rocks on Mars since touching down in August 2012, including a metallic one nicknamed Cacao in February of this year.

Perseverance's discovery isn't the first pastry-like rock that a Mars robot has rolled up on, by the way. In January 2014, NASA's Opportunity rover spied a stone that's white on the outside and red on the inside, prompting mission team members to compare it to a jelly donut.

Perseverance is exploring a 28-mile-wide (45 kilometers) Mars crater called Jezero, which hosted a big lake and a river delta billions of years ago. The car-sized rover is characterizing that ancient environment, searching for signs of long-ago life and collecting dozens of samples for future return to Earth.

A tiny helicopter called Ingenuity is aiding the big rover's work. Ingenuity rode to Mars with Perseverance and quickly aced its five-flight demonstration mission, which showed that aerial exploration is possible on the Red Planet. 

The 4-pound (1.8 kilograms) chopper is now deep into an extended mission, scouting out routes and promising science targets for its robotic partner to study. Ingenuity has performed 51 flights on Mars to date, covering a total of 7.3 miles (11.7 kilometers) of Red Planet ground.

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Mike Wall
Senior Space Writer

Michael Wall is a Senior Space Writer with and joined the team in 2010. He primarily covers exoplanets, spaceflight and military space, but has been known to dabble in the space art beat. His book about the search for alien life, "Out There," was published on Nov. 13, 2018. Before becoming a science writer, Michael worked as a herpetologist and wildlife biologist. He has a Ph.D. in evolutionary biology from the University of Sydney, Australia, a bachelor's degree from the University of Arizona, and a graduate certificate in science writing from the University of California, Santa Cruz. To find out what his latest project is, you can follow Michael on Twitter.

  • PHS
    If it's a meteorite, then where's the impact crater?
  • mikeash
    Yes. Its a remnant of a time machine. The hole proves it.
  • billslugg
    It is wrong shape, wrong color to be meteorite. It does not show a black fusion crust nor does it show but one erosion crater in the side. There should be many of them, all over the surface.
  • TruthB Told
    Ummmm. Donut. This article makes me hungry. Guess I'll have to go to Dunkin's now.
  • Mark Anderson
    Henry Moore sent it in 1985. He loved remote areas for his work.