NASA’s rover Curiosity, which spotted a mystery shiny thing on Mars in October 2012 that turned out to be a piece of robot litter, has discovered another oddity lodged in a rock that – a flower.
While using its robotic arm-mounted Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) camera to take some close up photos of the surface of a rocky outcrop at a location dubbed "Yellowknife Bay" on Dec. 19 (sol 132 of the mission), a bright object could be seen in one of the raw images uploaded to the mission’s website.
Its discovery has caused quite a stir on AboveTopSecret.com where it was first reported, Discovery News reported.
Alerted to the mystery feature, MSNBC’s Alan Boyle assumed it was just another piece of litter accidentally dropped from the rover, but this isn’t the case.
On putting the question to NASA spokesman Guy Webster, it appears that initial analysis has confirmed it is part of the rock and not something dropped on top.
Webster told Boyle in an email that the object appears to be part of the rock and not debris from the spacecraft.
The high-resolution MAHLI camera is intended to snap close-up observations of Mars surface features that, as noted by Boyle, is shaped like a tiny “flower”.