Scott Neuman

It appeared out of the red, like something dropped by a Martian Homer Simpson. But now NASA has an explanation for the "jelly doughnut" object photographed by the Opportunity rover in December.

First, here's what it isn't: It is not a fungus-like Martian organism, nor is it ejecta shot into the air by a nearby (and unseen) meteor impact.

Instead, it's geologic roadkill. Basically.

"We drove over it," Opportunity's Deputy Principal Investigator Ray Arvidson said in a statement on Friday.

The U.S. Olympic ice hockey team beat Russia 3-2 on the ice at the Sochi Games in a heart-stopping sudden-death shootout.

Although only a preliminary round, the contest was reminiscent of the 1980 "Miracle on Ice" at the Lake Placid Games when a group of American college players beat the formidable Soviet team in what became a touchstone of Cold War Olympic rivalry.

T.J. Oshie of the St. Louis Blues scored the game-winning point in the eighth round of the shootout that ended the clash among some of international hockey's best players.

Direct talks between the Syrian government and the opposition fighting to topple the regime have ended in what international mediator Lakhdar Brahimi described as a frustrating round of negotiations that have "not come out with very much."

About all that was decided in the latest round of the talks in Geneva that ended on Saturday was an agenda for a third set of meetings at an unspecified date.

"I apologize that these two rounds have not come out with very much," Brahimi said.

Passage of a bill to increase the Turkish government's control over the country's judicial system on Saturday came down to a real fight in Parliament, literally.

Two members of Parliament were injured — one with a broken nose — during debate over the controversial measure to give the Justice Ministry greater control over the selection of judges. The measure ultimately passed, but not before some minor bloodshed.

The Associated Press reports:

The Deep South has been shaken up this winter in more ways than one: First, there was the unusual ice and snow and the ensuing power outages. And now, an earthquake.

The late-night 4.1 temblor, with an epicenter about 150 miles northwest of Charleston, was not strong enough to do any damage, but it did rattle folks in both South Carolina and Georgia.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey says the quake struck at 10:23 p.m. ET Friday night.

A quarter of Americans surveyed could not correctly answer that the Earth revolves around the sun and not the other way around, according to a report out Friday from the National Science Foundation.

The survey of 2,200 people in the United States was conducted by the NSF in 2012 and released on Friday at an annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Chicago.

The federal government on Friday issued guidelines for banks seeking to do business with the legal marijuana industry, stopping short of a blanket immunity for them, but strongly indicating that prosecutions for such crimes as money laundering would be unlikely.

NPR's Yuki Noguchi reports that the Department of Justice and Treasury Department on Friday sought to "clarify rules for banks trying to navigate the murky legal waters of the marijuana business. Murky, because pot is legal in a growing number of states, but remains illegal under federal law."

A pair of daredevils, a Russian and a Ukrainian, scales the as-yet-unfinished Shanghai Tower, the world's second-tallest building.

As Russia Today writes:

"Donning army camos, black hoodies and face masks, Vadim Makhorov and Vitaly Raskalov evoke a Black Bloc aesthetic and an even more nonchalant attitude when readying themselves to scrape the sky with their own fingers."

The tusk from a mammoth that lived 16,000 years ago in the Seattle area unearthed earlier this week appears to be the largest, most intact ever found in the region.

It's thought to be from a Columbian mammoth, a subgroup of woolly mammoths, and is considered to be a pretty rare find. Construction workers stumbled on it as they were digging the foundation for an apartment complex in the city's South Lake Union neighborhood.

The world's largest solar power plant, made up of thousands of mirrors focusing the sun's energy, has officially started operations in the Mojave Desert, just inside southeastern California near the border with Nevada.

The $2.2 billion, 400-megawatt Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System, which covers 5 square miles and has three 40-story towers where the light is focused, is a joint project by NRG Energy, Google and BrightSource Energy. The project received a $1.6 billion federal loan guarantee.

This post was updated at 4:20 p.m. ET.

A chain reaction of crashes involving dozens of cars and tractor-trailers has left at least 30 people hurt and forced the closure of the eastbound lane on the Pennsylvania Turnpike near the town of Bensalem, local news reports.

The lane is now reopened after being closed for much of the day.

Some 100 vehicles were reportedly involved in multiple accidents stemming from an initial 14 or 15-vehicle collision in southern Bucks County at about 8:25 a.m. ET.

The second major volcanic eruption in as many weeks in Indonesia has killed at least three people and forced the evacuation of tens of thousands on the island of Java, as Mount Kelud spewed ash and debris 12 miles into the sky.

Thursday night's eruption of the volcano, located 50 miles southwest of the country's second-largest city of Surabaya, could be heard up to 125 miles away, Indonesia's disaster agency says, according to The Associated Press.

An extraordinary find of a fossil of 250-million-year-old air-breathing sea creature shows that it must have given birth on land, not in the sea as long assumed.

The fossil is of a mother chaohusaurus, which is believed to be a genus of ichthyosaur, who died giving birth. It shows the baby birthing headfirst.

Italy's Prime Minister Enrico Letta will step down after his own party launched a no-confidence vote against him, paving the way for the young and popular mayor of Florence to assume the post.

The Wall Street Journal reports:

If those flowers you were expecting fail to show up by Friday, don't be so quick to blame your Valentine. It could just be the weather.

That's not to say that the friendly neighborhood florist isn't planning for the worst — and hoping for the best.

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