While scooping its first samples of Martian soil, NASA’s Curiosity rover captured the image above, which shows what seems to be a small, seemingly metallic sliver or chip of… something… resting on the ground. Is it a piece of the rover? Or some other discarded fleck of the MSL descent mechanisms? Or perhaps an exotic Martian pebble of some sort? Nobody knows for sure yet, but needless to say the soil samples have taken a back seat to this new finding for the time being.
See a ChemCam image of the object below.
ChemCam shot of a recently spotted unknown object on Mars. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)
The ChemCam image, although monochrome, reveals some interesting and curiously organic-looking edges on the object… although it could be a bit of something that came loose from the rover itself. Perhaps a bit of plastic wrap or tape from a cable? Or a flake of metal from the back shell?
Or, as MSNBC’s Alan Boyle jokingly (?) suggested, another piece of “Martian macaroni”?
The MSL mission page states:
Curiosity’s first scooping activity appeared to go well on Oct. 7. Subsequently, the rover team decided to refrain from using the rover’s robotic arm on Oct. 8 due to the detection of a bright object on the ground that might be a piece from the rover. Instead of arm activities during the 62nd Martian day, or sol, of the mission, Curiosity is acquiring additional imaging of the object to aid the team in identifying the object and assessing possible impact, if any, to sampling activities.
Stay tuned for more info on this intriguing news as it’s available!
P.S. Of course, the now-famous “Sarcastic Rover” had something to say about it on Twitter: