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Another Shiny Object Seen In Pictures From Mars Is Now Explained

Last week, a blogger at Universe Today began a bit of an Internet frenzy when a reader spotted a shiny object in one of the pictures taken on Mars by the Curiosity rover.

There it was, a piece of what looked like shiny metal sticking out from a rock. It's not the first time the Mars rover Curiosity had spotted a shiny object. The last time around — back in October — a very small, plastic-looking object created the same kind of speculation. (Could it be?) It turned out it, the plastic looking thing was likely a piece of the spacecraft that dropped the rover off in Mars.

Today, NASA sent an analysis of the latest image from Ron Sletten, a team collaborator who studies soils at the University of Washington.

No, Sletten said, this is not a piece of debris from an alien spacecraft. It's actually a piece of rock that is more resistant to erosion than the rock it's embedded in.

"The rock on top of the projection is likely more resistant to wind erosion and protects the underlying rock from being eroded," he writes. "The shiny surface suggests that this rock has a fine grain and is relatively hard. Hard, fine grained rocks can be polished by the wind to form very smooth surfaces."

In some ways, said Sletten, it's a lot like what happens to rocks in Antarctica.

Sletten put together a slideshow that explains his thinking:

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NPR

Dean Jones, Herbie's Driver In Disney Movies, Dies At Age 84

Actor Dean Jones, who starred in The Love Bug, That Darn Cat! and other classic Walt Disney movies, also played the role of Bobby in the original Broadway cast of Stephen Sondheim's Company.
NPR

From Dock To Dish: A New Model Connects Chefs To Local Fishermen

Prominent chefs are signing up for restaurant-supported fisheries: They commit to buying fresh-caught seafood, whatever the species, from local small fishermen. A pilot program launched in California.
NPR

Fears Of Marijuana 'Monopoly' In Ohio Undercut Support For Legalization

Ohio will vote this fall on whether to legalize marijuana. The measure allows 10 growing sites; 10 groups of big investors already have dibs. Some would-be pot proponents are crying foul.
NPR

Yahoo CEO To Take Limited Leave After Giving Birth To Twins

NPR's Rachel Martin talks with Slate DoubleX Gabfest's Hanna Rosin about Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer's decision to take just two weeks worth of parental leave after having twins in December.

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