Fresh on the heels of finding evidence for the presence of past water on Mars, the Curiosity rover again sent people into a tizzy when, during its first attempt to dig into the Martian soil, it found an unidentified shiny object. Speculation abounded as to what the shiny object could be, some serious, some less so. NASA eventually deemed the object to be a piece of plastic that came from the rover. Case closed. Right?
After NASA shunted the rover debris aside and went back for another stab at digging into the red planet, they found something unexpected: more shiny things. At first, New Scientist reports, scientists thought the rover might be shedding other debris, but soon they considered another possibility:
Further scrutiny now suggests that at least some of the unidentified particles are in fact native to Mars. Images show light-toned particles embedded in clumps of excavated soil, implying that they couldn’t have been shed by the rover.
“NASA is currently preparing to take a third sample from the site as well as more pictures,” says New Scientist, “which should help them figure out whether the bright bits are unwelcome litter or something worthy of delivery to the rover’s on-board lab equipment.”
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