Astronomy Picture of the Day
October 24, 2012

Native Martian bright Rock Particle at Rocknest (Gale Crater) - Sol 69
Native Martian bright Rock Particle at Rocknest (Gale Crater) - Sol 69

Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech - MER and Lab. Curiosity - Credits for the additional process. and color.: Elisabetta Bonora and Marco Faccin/Lunar Explorer Italia/IPF

These four (4) images show an interesting detail found in a small Pit (or "Bite") created when the NASA - Mars Exploration Rover and Laboratory "Curiosity" collected its second scoop of Martian Soil at a Sandy Patch nicknmaed "Rocknest." The bright Soil Particle visible in the center of each of the four images - which is basically very similar to other particles located elsewhere in the Pit itself, but not visible here - caused a certain and immediate concern because a small, light-toned shred of Debris from the Spacecraft had already been observed just a few Soles before, in a nearby location. However, in this case, the Mission's Science Team assessed that this bright Soil Particle which has ben exposed and scooped in the Pit, is to be considered as Native Martian Material, rather than another Debris coming from the Spacecraft.

These four images were all taken by the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) Camera that is positioned on Curiosity's Robotic Arm during the 69th Martian Day, or Sol, of its Mission (such as October, 15, 2012) at Gale Crater, and about a week after the Scoop dug this little hole. The view here covers an area of ground which is less than half a centimeter across.

These four images, which are all NASA - Mars Exploration Rover and Laboratory "Curiosity" b/w frames (identified by the serial n. visible in the lower left side of each picture) have been additionally processed and then colorized in Natural Colors (such as the colors that a perfect human eye - or an Electronic Eye - would actually perceive if someone were on the Surface of Gale Crater - Mars -, near the NASA - Mars Exploration Rover and Laboratory "Curiosity", and then looked down, towards the little Pit excavated on the Surface, by using an original technique created - and, in time, dramatically improved - by the Lunar Explorer Italia Team.

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