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Shiny object found on Mars! Is it alien? Or just a piece of the Curiosity rover?

This shiny object on Mars (emphasis added by KPCC) is likely a piece of the Curiosity rover that came loose during entry, descent or landing, according to NASA.

The Internet has been abuzz about a bright object that appeared near the Mars Curiosity rover this week. The rover had scooped up its first soil sample when Curiosity team members spotted the object near the robotic arm.

(You can barely see the object in the photo above, but you can get a much better look at this high-resolution image on NASA's website.)

During a news conference Thursday, Chris Roumeliotis from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory said it was probably just a small plastic part that came loose during the entry, descent and landing (EDL) stage.  

“The main thing here is we scoured the Rover, and it’s completely inconsequential to the Rover’s function,” Roumeliotis said. “And so it’s likely from EDL — and there’s absolutely no issue.”

He said team members plan to try and get a better image of the object so they can understand exactly what it is.

What do you think it is? A piece of the rover? Evidence of extraterrestrial life?

KPCC reporters have been following NASA's most ambitious rover yet — Curiosity — as it gives us a new look at the Martian surface. Follow the series online.

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