What are these metallic bits Curiosity keeps finding?
Curiosity has found even more of the little bits of shiny things. What are they, and where are they coming from? The first time Curiosity panned down to reveal something shiny in the Martian soil, scientists assumed that it was a flake of something that had fallen off the Curiosity rover itself.
They scooped it up for closer inspection, to see if it was something important or not. Upon analysis it turned out to be plastic, and not something necessary to the rover's operation. (I guess even Martian rovers can have bits of leftover flash flaking off them?)
Other shiny bits found on the surface were presumed to be scraps from the rover's descent mechanism, the complex and ingenious series of devices that transferred the rover from outer space to the Martian surface. You would expect some bits to get blown around, after a landing that dramatic.
All well and good. But now Curiosity has been scooping up soil, and finding even more shiny bits buried inches below the surface. Surely these cannot also be from the rover or its transportation equipment?
Curiosity's team is currently working under the assumption that these shiny bits are flakes of metal, or possibly something resulting from an unknown geological soil process. The Martian shiny bits are currently under investigation and analysis, but it will take several weeks before we get definitive results back.
In the mean time, the scientists have dubbed these shiny bits "schmutz." Of course, some people are hoping these objects may come to be called "proof." Proof of life on Mars, or of alien visitation.
Speculation has always been rampant about alien life on Mars. Memorably, remote viewer Joseph McMoneagle once claimed to have viewed Mars' past, when it was inhabited by a race of very thin, tall, large people who wore "strange clothes" and who communicated telepathically. McMoneagle claimed that he himself was able to communicate telepathically with these Martians of the long-ago past.
According to McMoneagle, the Martians left (and/or were wiped out) after "a major geologic problem." Perhaps this "problem" was responsible for scattering all the metal bits throughout the Martian sub-soil. Or perhaps - more boringly, but more realistically - they are just chips of quartz or some other shiny silicate that might be found in soil.
Of course, the first object - the one that turned out to be a chunk of plastic - was from alien visitation. Meaning, us!