This small object got the attention of Mars Curiosity mission scientists this past week. NASA scientists say they were finally able to figure out what the strange fragment is.
Images captured on Monday (August 13, 2018) by the Curiosity rover’s camera show an object that looks perhaps like masking tape or a piece of peeled off paint. Scientists initially speculated that the mysterious chunk, which they referred to as Pettegrove Point Foreign Object Debris, was a piece of spacecraft debris, or part of Curiosity itself. But now they’ve determined that it’s of natural origin.
It was analyzed by Curiosity’s ChemCam, an instrument that uses a laser and spectrometer. Results showed the object is a very thin flake of rock. “False Alarm,” said the mission team, who had initially though they’d found some kind of interesting object on the surface of Mars.