Bright object on Mars is likely plastic from rover

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pia16225 sol61 mastcam34 br2 Bright object on Mars is likely plastic from rover

This image from the right Mast Camera (Mastcam) of NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity shows a scoop full of sand and dust lifted by the rover’s first use of the scoop on its robotic arm. In the foreground, near the bottom of the image, a bright object is visible on the ground. For scale, the scoop is 1.8 inches wide, 2.8 inches long. (Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

PASADENA, Calif. (AP) — NASA says a small bright object detected on Mars is likely a piece of plastic from the Curiosity rover.

The six-wheel spacecraft captured an image of the puzzling object Monday after scooping up Martian sand and dust over the weekend.

In a statement Tuesday, the space agency says the plastic bit that fell off the rover is “benign.” While plans are continuing to positively identify it, NASA says it is not “Martian material.”

Curiosity will continue taking pictures of its surroundings as the project team decides the next move.

Curiosity landed in an ancient crater in August on a two-year mission to determine whether the environment was ever favorable for microbial life. It started driving toward its first science destination after a month checking out its instruments.

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