Is Curiosity littering plastic on red planet?

LONDON (TIP): Nasa’s Curiosity rover on Mars is apparently littering on the Red planet. Pictures beamed back by the rover show a bright object lying in the Martian dirt, and a closer look suggests 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, the ‘New Scientist’ reported. However, 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 are is a mystery. Curiosity had been in the midst of preparing to feed soil into its Chemistry and Mineralogy (CheMin) instrument, which bounces thin beams of X-rays off a sample to read its mineral composition. This involved taking scoopfuls of soil, shaking them vigorously and then dumping them back out, to be sure that any lingering traces of Earthly particles didn’t make it into the science equipment. After the first scoop-and-shake revealed the unexpected object, Curiosity took a quick break to examine the find. It then got back on course, taking a second scoop of soil on October 12.

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