October 10, 2012
Bright Object On Mars Just Plastic Piece, NASA Says
Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
NASA has cleared the air, saying that the shiny object found in a picture taken of the surface of Mars isn't an alien, but a small piece of its very own Curiosity rover.
Curiosity's scooping activities came to a halt when a shiny object appeared in an image taken by the Mast Camera (Mastcam).
While the Internet went wild with all sorts of speculation as to what the object might be, NASA has partly put an end to speculation by saying the material appears to be a shred of plastic. However, the space agency did say it has not been definitively identified yet.
The team will be continuing to investigate for another day before deciding whether to resume processing of the sample of soil Curiosity has scooped up.
A sample of sand and dust scooped up on Sol 61 remains in the scoop, and plans to transfer it from the scoop into other chambers of the sample-processing device were postponed as a precaution during planning for Sol 62.
Curiosity's main activity Monday was to image the object using its Remote Micro-Imager of the Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) instrument.
NASA has set up a teleconference on Thursday to provide a status update on the Curiosity rover's mission to Mars' Gale Crater. In this, one could only assume NASA will be bringing up more information about the bright object, as well as possibly what the scoop analysis has told scientists about Martian soil.