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Curiosity's new bright, shiny object is actually Martian

NASA's Curiosity rover is turning up some interesting things as it digs into Mars like a robotic child in a giant sandbox.

Bright object in Mars soil
Ooh, look... shiny!

Perhaps the Red Planet isn't quite so red as we thought. NASA's Curiosity rover has been digging up some unusual bits in the soil of Mars. A couple weeks ago, the rover found a strange bright object which later turned out to be a part of the rover itself. Now we have a new mystery object to contend with.

Curiosity took a few scoops of Martian soil from a patch called "Rocknest." That activity uncovered a bright particle in the pit it created. Unlike the earlier object, NASA has confirmed the new piece is of Martian origin. There are others like it scattered around.

The particle is pretty tiny. For perspective, the image above covers an area only about 1.6 inches across. Still, the bit is clearly different from the surrounding soil. At first, NASA was worried more pieces might be falling off the rover, but further study showed that not to be the case.

NASA is going into full-on analytic mode now. The rover will be working with tiny samples to determine what minerals are in the soil and hopefully sort out just what exactly the bright particle is. Until then, we're free to speculate wildly. I'm sticking with my "intergalactic Hansel and Gretel bread crumbs" theory until I find out otherwise.

(Via The Atlantic)