By SETH BORENSTEIN | Associated Press – Thu, Oct 18, 2012
(AP) — NASA's Mars rover Curiosity has dug up a mini-mystery for
scientists: an odd white fleck that sticks out like a beacon in the
It looks out of place, but scientists said Thursday that it's probably just a different hued bit of Martian soil.
It's only 1 millimeter in size and was spotted after the rover used its mechanical scoop to dig up some dust.
scientist John Grotzinger (GRAWT'-sihn-ger) said researchers first
thought it was earthly contamination from Curiosity. But it's likely
natural Martian soil that looks different because of the way it's angled
in the light or how the soil broke apart. Or it could be made of
Curiosity will use its camera and instruments to try to learn more about what it is.
handout photo provided by NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS, taken Oct. 15, 2012,
shows part of the small pit or bite created when NASA's Mars rover
Curiosity collected its second scoop of Martian soil at a sandy patch
called "Rocknest." The bright particle near the center of this image,
and similar ones elsewhere in the pit, prompted concern because a small,
light-toned shred of debris from the spacecraft had been observed
previously nearby. However, the mission's science team assessed the
bright particles in this scooped pit to be native Martian material
rather than spacecraft debris. (APPhoto/NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)
patch of windblown sand and dust downhill from a cluster of dark rocks
at the "Rocknest" site on Mars is shown in this September 28, 2012 NASA
handout photo. The site has been selected as the likely location for
first use of the scoop on the arm of NASA's Mars rover Curiosity. This
view is a mosaic of images taken by the telephoto right-eye camera of
the Mast Camera (Mastcam) during the 52nd Martian day, or sol, of the
mission (Sept. 28, 2012), four sols before the rover arrived at
Rocknest. The Rocknest patch is about 8 feet by 16 feet. Scientists
white-balanced the color in this view to show the Martian scene as it
would appear under the lighting conditions we have on Earth, which helps
in analyzing the terrain.
NASA image from Mars Curiosity's Mast Camera taken on September 22, 2012
and released October 11, 2012 shows where NASA's Mars Curiosity rover
aimed two different instruments to study a rock known as "Jake
Matijevic." The red dots are where the Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam)
instrument zapped it with its laser on September 21, 2012 and September
24, 2012, which were the 45th and 48th sol, or Martian day of
operations. The circular black and white images were taken by ChemCam to
look for the pits produced by the laser. The purple circles indicate
where the Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer trained its view.
- ADDING RESTRICTIONS NASA's Mars rover Curiosity cut a wheel scuff
mark into a wind-formed ripple at the "Rocknest" site in this handout
photo shot October 3, 2012 and released by NASA October 5, 2012. It
gives researchers a better opportunity to examine the particle-size
distribution of the material forming the ripple. For scale, the width of
the wheel track is about 16 inches.
more photos on site
Thanks to: http://extraterrestrials.ning.com