Mars rover Curiosity scoops, detects bright object

Oct 09, 2012
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. The object might be a piece of rover hardware. This image was taken during the mission's 61st Martian day, or sol (Oct. 7, 2012), the same sol as the first scooping. After examining Sol 61 imaging, the rover team decided to refrain from using the arm on Sol 62 (Oct. 8). Instead, the rover was instructed to acquire additional imaging of the bright object, on Sol 62, to aid the team in assessing possible impact, if any, to sampling activities. For scale, the scoop is 1.8 inches (4.5 centimeters) wide, 2.8 inches (7 centimeters) long. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

NASA officials say the Curiosity rover has made its first scoop of the surface of planet Mars and has detected a bright object on the ground.

Officials said in a news release Monday that they suspect the object might be a part of the six-wheeled rover, but they won't sample or scoop anymore until they figure out what it is.

The Curiosity has already beamed back pictures of that suggest a fast-moving stream once flowed on the planet.

Video: This video clip shows the first Martian material collected by the scoop on the robotic arm of NASA's Curiosity rover, being vibrated inside the scoop after it was lifted from the ground on Oct. 7, 2012. The clip includes 256 frames from 's Mast Camera, taken at about eight frames per second, plus interpolated frames to run at actual speed in this 32-frames-per-second version. The scoop was vibrated to discard any overfill. Churning due to vibration also serves to show physical characteristics of the collected material, such as an absence of pebbles. The scoop is 1.8 inches (4.5 centimeters) wide, 2.8 inches (7 centimeters) long. Credit: /JPL-Caltech/MSSS

The landed Aug. 5 and is on a two-year, $2.5 billion mission to study whether microbial life could have existed on Mars in the past.

Today's Mars is a frozen desert, but previous geological studies suggest it was once warmer and wetter.

Explore further: Rosetta instrument commissioning continues

4.4 /5 (15 votes)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Mars rover Curiosity working 'flawlessly': NASA

Sep 13, 2012

For the past week, the rover, which touched down on August 6, has undergone a series of instrument tests, as well as a rebooting of its steering computers, and everything so far appears fine, according t ...

Mars rover Curiosity prepares for test drive (Update)

Aug 21, 2012

Scientists on Tuesday prepared to send Curiosity on its first test drive over the billion-year-old rocks of Mars and said a busted wind sensor won't jeopardize its mission of determining whether life could ...

Recommended for you

Astronauts to reveal sobering data on asteroid impacts

11 hours ago

This Earth Day, Tuesday, April 22, three former NASA astronauts will present new evidence that our planet has experienced many more large-scale asteroid impacts over the past decade than previously thought… ...

Rosetta instrument commissioning continues

12 hours ago

We're now in week four of six dedicated to commissioning Rosetta's science instruments after the long hibernation period, with the majority now having completed at least a first initial switch on.

Astronaut salary

12 hours ago

Talk about a high-flying career! Being a government astronaut means you have the chance to go into space and take part in some neat projects—such as going on spacewalks, moving robotic arms and doing science ...

Red moon at night; stargazer's delight

Apr 16, 2014

Monday night's lunar eclipse proved just as delightful as expected to those able to view it. On the East Coast, cloudy skies may have gotten in the way, but at the National Science Foundation's National Optical ...

User comments : 20

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

1.6 / 5 (7) Oct 09, 2012
I see no bright object in the foreground near the bottom of the image, and this the third version of the image that I have seen. Perhaps the "object" in question is the tiny grey glint of light reflecting from the surface by way of the corner of the edge of the scoop.
3 / 5 (4) Oct 09, 2012
You don't see it? I do... click the image and expand it to full size.
3.8 / 5 (4) Oct 09, 2012
Ohh man come on. People on youtube do a better job at spotting wierd crap than this.
1.4 / 5 (5) Oct 09, 2012
Baudrunner: I think they are referring to the object in the upper left corner of the image that looks like a reversed "L". It does look like a bracket or something that came off the rover.
5 / 5 (4) Oct 09, 2012
Baudrunner: I think they are referring to the object in the upper left corner of the image that looks like a reversed "L". It does look like a bracket or something that came off the rover.

What you are looking at is sunlight. Here is an image where I've circled the object-
2.3 / 5 (3) Oct 09, 2012
Thanks Sleep. I would never have seen that. You are right about the sunlight making the image I was looking at. Thank you for clearing it up.
3 / 5 (2) Oct 09, 2012
Guys i think that is the corner portion of the scoop, check out the upper right corner of the scoop, you can see that its torn off and the portion appears brighter than the surroundings.....
2 / 5 (1) Oct 09, 2012
Egad! It's the top from a Spam can!
5 / 5 (1) Oct 09, 2012
The object they are referring to is a very tiny silver sliver sitting on the ground that is about the size of one of the dirt clods. Expand the image to full size and look at the bottom 10% of the image mid way between the suction cup looking thingy and the bracket on the right you will see it. It is very tiny and has a silver color.
3.6 / 5 (17) Oct 09, 2012
Or search the web. Plenty of closeups.
2 / 5 (5) Oct 09, 2012

The image does seem to match the dimensions from the scoop using photoshop. Possible debris from the scoop front left cornet where dirt seemed to be missing.
2 / 5 (3) Oct 09, 2012
what are the chances the rover would stumble across an object from a previous mission?...also, isn't this current mission in a previously unexplored part of the planet?
2.3 / 5 (3) Oct 10, 2012
It looks like plastic to me how strange.
not rated yet Oct 10, 2012
Please Shoot it with the photo spectrometer!
3 / 5 (3) Oct 10, 2012
Clearly it is the upper right corner of the scoop. It has fallen off and fallen to the ground just below.
1.3 / 5 (7) Oct 10, 2012
Clearly it is the upper right corner of the scoop. It has fallen off and fallen to the ground just below.

yeah now that you mention it, the right corner of the scoop looks chipped
2 / 5 (4) Oct 10, 2012
The corner's not chipped. That is reflected sunlight. The so-called object is probably a second reflection off of that corner of the scoop, like I've suggested.
1.4 / 5 (9) Oct 10, 2012
It looks like scat from Schrodinger's cat. Which would explain it's mysterious origin.
not rated yet Oct 14, 2012
It looks like there may be some other tiny pieces around the main piece. I certainly don't like the idea of pieces falling off of the rover.
I'll also be a little pissed if we flip it over and see "Made in China" on the back. "Made on Mars" would be pretty cool, though.
not rated yet Oct 16, 2012
Follow up, for the record: Apparently, after having rejected two scoops of Mars soul, NASA has decided that the smallest white bits seen are actually Martian artifacts, and no rover debris.

More news stories

Cosmologists weigh cosmic filaments and voids

( —Cosmologists have established that much of the stuff of the universe is made of dark matter, a mysterious, invisible substance that can't be directly detected but which exerts a gravitational ...

Hubble image: A cross-section of the universe

An image of a galaxy cluster taken by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope gives a remarkable cross-section of the Universe, showing objects at different distances and stages in cosmic history. They range ...

Hackathon team's GoogolPlex gives Siri extra powers

( —Four freshmen at the University of Pennsylvania have taken Apple's personal assistant Siri to behave as a graduate-level executive assistant which, when asked, is capable of adjusting the temperature ...

Better thermal-imaging lens from waste sulfur

Sulfur left over from refining fossil fuels can be transformed into cheap, lightweight, plastic lenses for infrared devices, including night-vision goggles, a University of Arizona-led international team ...

Deadly human pathogen Cryptococcus fully sequenced

Within each strand of DNA lies the blueprint for building an organism, along with the keys to its evolution and survival. These genetic instructions can give valuable insight into why pathogens like Cryptococcus ne ...