Bright Object on Mars Is Likely Plastic From Rover

This image provided by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope shows a close-up of the red planet Mars when it was closest to the Hubble Space Telescope - just 55 million miles (88 million kilometers) away taken with Hubble's Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2. Mars was closest to Earth on Dec. 18, at 11:45 p.m. Universal Time (6:45 p.m. EST). Mars and Earth have a "close encounter" about every 26 months. These periodic encounters are due to the differences in the two planets' orbits. The planet appears free of any dust storms during this closest approach, however, there are significant clouds visible in both the northern and southern polar cap regions. (AP Photo/NASA)
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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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