Unrelated to last week’s “shiny object” find, this week Curiosity Rover took three scoops from the Martian soil and found several bright, shiny particles in the sample. In an area called Rocknest, the rover was sampling and analyzing soil when it ran across a small, shiny particle. Scooping was halted and after NASA determined that the shiny object was benign, engineers proceeded with the dig. In the second scoop, they began to see more bright flecks. Since the objects were apparently buried, NASA believes at this point that they are indigenous to Mars and not man-made materials.
“The science team started calling them schmutz. We can’t rule out that they’re something man-made but we don’t think that they are.”
NASA feels the objects may be larger minerals that have broken down or possibly a new, unknown mineral. In the coming weeks, Curiosity will use the high-res ChemCam to get a close-up look at the schmutz.