Curiosity is continuing its extended vacation on Mars, but it seems the early signs of ADHD are getting worse. After first getting distracted by some sand and halting its trip to Glenelg, its initial destination, it's now getting distracted again by something it found while scooping up the sand in question.
The plan was to take two of these scoops to clean up the system and only analyze the third. But that was put on hold while Curiosity investigates the strange object.
The most likely scenario is that it's a piece of the rover itself, though that's not particularly encouraging. The metallic-looking object is rather tiny and is barely visible in the photo shot on Curiosity's 61st Sol (Martian day) on the planet, October 7th, Earth date.
"The rover team decided to refrain from using the rover's robotic arm on Oct. 8 due to the detection of a bright object on the ground that might be a piece from the rover," NASA wrote.
In the photo, you can see Curiosity's scoop filled with sand, the scoop is some 7 cm long and 4.5 cm wide (2.8 inches by 1.8 inches).
A video NASA provided shows the sand being vibrated in the scoop. Curiosity does this to get rid of any surplus material but also to see how it behaves.
Curiosity was put on Mars to make interesting discoveries, but NASA probably didn't want the discoveries to be about Curiosity itself and how well or poor it's been put together.
Via: Curiosity Spots Shiny "Something" in the Martian Sand