Curiosity scoops up SHINY BITS from the RED SANDS of MARS!
Prowling nuclear robot sieves and sniffs the dirt
Curiosity's latest dig into Martian soil has uncovered yet more shiny objects, but this time boffins don't think they're from the rover.
When the science truck swallowed its first solid sample of soil for analysis by its CheMin instrument to look at the minerals inside, it saw that bright bits were in the Martian sand.
The wee bits and pieces at first led to Curiosity dumping yet another scoop of soil out of its robotic arm, for fear that the shinies had come from Earth and would contaminate the sample. But when the small shiny specks kept showing up, scientists figured they must be part of the normal makeup of dirt on the Red Planet.
Just over a week ago, at the start of its first soil-gathering mission, the rover spotted a lone large bright object that mission control guessed had dropped off the rover itself somehow. The team put off grabbing more dirt with the robotic arm for a couple of days but after examination they reckoned it was manmade debris.
The new bright bits are smaller, there's more of them and they are located inside the hole that Curiosity dug, rather than laying on the surface.
"We plan to learn more both about the spacecraft material and about the smaller, bright particles," said Curiosity project manager Richard Cook. "We will finish determining whether the spacecraft material warrants concern during future operations. The native Mars particles become fodder for the mission's scientific studies."
The sample inside the rover, a sieved portion about the same size as a baby aspirin, was delivered to CheMin on Wednesday. Next, Curiosity will use Martian scoops to scrub out its other internal analytic instrument, the Sample Analysis at Mars, which will also look at the soil's chemistry. ®
"Come in red leader, the Earth robot has started moving again."
"Excellent. How long was it stopped for?"
"Any idea why it stopped?"
"We believe the human operators became confused upon encountering a shiny piece of the robot in the dirt"
"For three days?! Well what is it doing now?"
"It keeps scooping up dirt and dropping it again. I don't think the humans like the shiny pieces they see in the sand"
"What is this some kind of joke? Why the fuck have they sent a robot all the way here just to piss about playing in the sand and shooting shitty little lasers at pebbles? Why aren't they exploring the Pyramid and the Face we built for them? Did they not see them? We built them big enough and at the right angle didn't we? If they don't buck their ideas up soon I'm gonna send one of our robots to Earth to destroy one of their cities and then maybe they'll understand the whole concept of Sending A Robot To Another Planet To Do Shit"
If there's one thing that I've learned from star trek, it's that you should never fire an energy beam at a crystaline entity.
Meanwhile Curiosity continues to buld sand castles in concentric circles waiting for the tide to come in and wash them away.