Bright object on Mars is likely plastic from rover

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."

Engineers work on a model of the Mars rover Curiosity at the Spacecraft Assembly Facility at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., Thursday, Aug. 2, 2012. After traveling 8 1/2 months and 352 million miles, Curiosity will attempt a landing on Mars the night of Aug. 5, 2012. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

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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