On Sunday, October 7th, NASA’s Curiosity has detected a bright object on Mars, perhaps a Martian material. Officials haven’t made any further scooping or sampling and the entire Monday was spent photographing the odd object to determine what it is.
Finally scientists announced that the bright object was in fact a piece of the 1-ton rover and that they are not sure what exactly it is or if the absence of this object will affect Curiosity’s mission from now on.
“The rover team’s assessment is that the bright object is something from the rover, not Martian material,” mission team members wrote in an update today. “It appears to be a shred of plastic material, likely benign, but it has not been definitively identified.”
Researchers will take another day to analyze the piece of plastic before resuming sampling and scooping the Martian soil. Last week Curiosity has begun using its soil-scooping system, located at the end of the rover’s 7-foot (2.1 meters) robotic arm. The taken samples are dropped into two instruments known as Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) and Chemistry and Mineralogy (CheMin).
The Mars rover Curiosity, worth $2.5 billion, landed on the Red Planet, in the Gale Crater on August 5th. It will spend at least 2 years analyzing samples of the planet and determining whether there was once life there or water.