The plot sounds like something out of a horror movie: A ship teeming with diseased, cannibalistic rats drifts toward the British Coast, putting millions of residents at risk. In reality, the Irish Department of Transport said they believe the Lyubov Orlova, a cruise ship that has been adrift for a year in the Atlantic Ocean, has likely sunk due to “adverse weather conditions.” Aidan Glover, a spokesperson for the Department of Transport, said officials arrived at the conclusion after they received “no positive reports or sightings” of the ship. The last signs from the cruise liner were two beacons, which were sent last March and were presumably triggered when lifeboats hit the water, the Independent reported.
The ship was impounded in Canada in 2010 before it was decided last year that it would be towed to the Dominican Republic and sold for scrap. During the journey, the tow-line to the tug boat broke and the Lyubov Orlova was lost at sea. Canadian authorities were reportedly able to harness it again later, dragged it to international waters and cut it loose. Whether diseased, rat-eating rats were on board hasn’t been confirmed by officials, however the Hollywood-worthy twist has captivated peoples’ attention. Pim de Rhoodes, a Belgian salvage hunter, fueled the fantasy when he told the Sun, a British tabloid, that he expected, “There will be a lot of rats, and they eat each other.” “If I get aboard I’ll have to lace everywhere with poison,” he said. The lore of the Lyubov Orlova won’t be going away any time soon. The 300-foot ship is worth an estimated $1 million in scrap, making it an attractive treasure for salvage hunters.
A mysterious rock which appeared in front of the Opportunity rover is “like nothing we’ve ever seen before”, according to Mars exploration scientists at Nasa. Experts said they were “completely confused” by both the origins and makeup of the object, which is currently being investigated by Opportunity’s various measuring instruments. Astronomers noticed the new rock had “appeared” without any explanation on an outcrop which had been empty just days earlier. The rover has been stuck photographing the same region of Mars for more than a month due to bad weather, with scientists at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in California monitoring the images it sends. Nasa issued a Mars status report entitled “encountering a surprise”, and lead Mars Exploration rover scientist Steve Squyres told a JPL event it seems the planet literally “keeps throwing new things at us”. He said the images, from 12 Martian days apart, were from no more than a couple of weeks ago. “We saw this rock just sitting here. It looks white around the edge in the middle and there’s a low spot in the centre that’s dark red – it looks like a jelly doughnut. “And it appeared, just plain appeared at that spot – and we haven’t ever driven over that spot.” Squyres said his team had two theories on how the rock got there – that there’s “a smoking hole in the ground somewhere nearby” and it was caused by a meteor, or that it was “somehow flicked out of the ground by a wheel” as the rover went by.
Images captured by Opportunity show the mysterious rock 'appeared' on an outcrop that had been empty just 12 Martian days ('Sols') earlier
“We had driven a metre or two away from here, and I think the idea that somehow we mysteriously flicked it with a wheel is the best explanation,” Squyres said. Yet the story got even stranger when Opportunity investigated further. Squyres explained: “We are as we speak situated with the rover’s instruments deployed making measurements of this rock. “We’ve taken pictures of both the doughnut and jelly parts, and the got the first data on the composition of the jelly yesterday. “It’s like nothing we’ve ever seen before,” he said. “It’s very high in sulphur, it’s very high in magnesium, it’s got twice as much manganese as we’ve ever seen in anything on Mars. “I don’t know what any of this means. We’re completely confused, and everyone in the team is arguing and fighting (over what it means). “That’s the beauty of this mission… what I’ve realised is that we will never be finished. There will always be something tantalising, something wonderful just beyond our reach that we didn’t quite get to – and that’s the nature of exploration.” Squyres was speaking at an event marking the 10th anniversary of the arrival of Opportunity and Spirit on the surface of Mars. While Spirit lost contact with Earth and was later declared “dead” in 2010, Opportunity has now roamed the planet far in excess of what was originally planned as a three-month mission. Nasa said that with its maximum speed of just 0.05mph, as of “Sol 3547” (15 January 2014) Opportunity had covered just over 24 miles (38km).