NASA’s Curiosity rover continues to assess a small plastic object discovered on the surface of Mars. It is believed that the object is something from the rover, not Martian material.
Curiosity’s main activity in the 62nd sol of the mission (Oct. 8, 2012) was to image a small, bright object on the ground using the Remote Micro-Imager of the Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) instrument.
The rover team’s assessment is that the bright object is something from the rover, not Martian material. It appears to be a shred of plastic material, likely benign, but it has not been definitively identified.
To proceed cautiously, the team is continuing the investigation for another day before deciding whether to resume processing of the sample in the scoop. Plans include imaging of surroundings with the Mastcam.
This video clip shows the first Martian material collected by the scoop on the robotic arm of NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover, being vibrated inside the scoop after it was lifted from the ground on Oct. 7, 2012.
A sample of sand and dust scooped up on Sol 61 remains in the scoop. 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 after the small, bright object was detected in an image from the Mast Camera (Mastcam).
A Sol 62 raw image from ChemCam, at http://1.usa.gov/R1fZHt, shows the object in question just to left of center of the image.
Sol 62, in Mars local mean solar time at Gale Crater, will end at 12:23 a.m. Oct. 9, PDT (3:23 a.m., EDT).