What Is This Shiny Metallic Thing On Mars?

While grabbing its first scoop of Martian soil, the Curiosity rover team spotted something that was not supposed to be there: a bright object on the ground. What is it? NASA scientists don't know yet.

The image — taken by the right mast camera during the mission's 61st Martian day — shows Curiosity's robotic arm scoop full of sand and dust, waiting to be deposited inside its analysis unit. But after looking closer at the photo, someone noticed the unusual bright spot on the ground.

The scooping operation was then halted and the rover was instructed to take a closer look of the object. It has yet to arrive at ground control.

NASA suspects that this may be a piece of Curiosity's hardware, but they are not sure yet. Could it be some screw that got loose and fell off the rover? Curiosity's team will wait until they get the close-up of the object before "assessing possible impact, if any, to sampling activities".

If it is a piece of the rover, I wonder how a lost piece can affect the rover's functions. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory hasn't said anything about it yet.

The rover landed successfully on Mars on August 6, 2012. So far, its operation has been flawless. [NASA]

Original image. Click to enlarge


Comments

    What's the point in showing the 'original image' when the point of interest has been cropped out?

    October 6 2012? And it's been up there for 61 days? Wow mars days go quick

      "The rover landed successfully on Mars on October 6, 2012. So far, its operation has been flawless. [NASA]" lol I didnt even notice that the first time I read the artcle

        Awwww, it's been fixed since then, I didn't get to see the Jesus's brain fart.
        "The rover landed successfully on Mars on August 6, 2012. So far, its operation has been flawless."

    Agreed with lachie_h... It cannot even be seen in the 'original image'. I spent ages on a NASA style where's wally mission, but couldn't see it.

    +1 re the cropped image. However, you can see the original on the NASA site here
    http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/images/pia16225-Sol61-Mastcam34-br2.jpg

    What if it's just a piece of the rover that broke off and flew away when the thing landed?

      That seems to be what the article, and NASA, is suggesting.

        You expected him to have read the article? Have you learned nothing about Gizmodo commenters!

    It's a dishwasher. Just like what Karl Pilkington said!!!

    Apparently it's plastic http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/09/bright-object-mars-nasa-curiosity-rover_n_1952424.html

    It's obviously a bit of garbage left laying around on the studio floor by some absent-minded janitor before they brought in all the red dirt etc to create their fake Mars landing site. Come on, admit it - you're all thinking it :P

      studio 7, lot 38. that's ll i can say...

    Might be my keys?? I lost them on my last holiday.

    Obviously Bender from Futurama has been there for a quickie with the rover, and after biting his shiny metal ass the rover had to spit.

    Doh wrong planet, that looks like Mercury! Ha, Ha, get it? Yeah I know, too funny!

    Most likely it's a silicon-based life form, like a mars-smurf or mars-snork.

    Looks like something on the lens?

    It honestly looks like a 3D render rather than a real photograph.

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