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October 17 2012

Mystery particles on Mars revealed by rover's litter


Sifting through soil on Mars, NASA's rover Curiosity paused to take a picture - and exposed its own bad behaviour. The shot included a bright object lying in the Martian dirt, and a closer look suggests that the rover is guilty of littering: it appears the object is a piece of plastic wrapper that has fallen from the robot.

The discovery has put a twist on the rover's current mission to scrub out its soil scoop and take its first sample of Martian dirt for analysis. More bright specks of unidentified matter in the soil - at first thought to be from Curiosity shedding - may actually be Martian in origin, although what they might be is a mystery.

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