A target the Curiosity rover team referred to as “Pettegrove Point Foreign Object Debris” (PPFOD), and speculated to be a piece of spacecraft debris, turns out to be something else entirely. Click for the full image. NASA/JPL-Caltech
On Aug. 13 (Sol 2139), NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover came across a strange-looking object while rolling through Pettegrove Point on the lower slopes of Mt. Sharp in Gale Crater. It looks like a piece of birch bark, a page torn from a book or even a paint chip off Curiosity. It’s easy to imagine something unnatural or even alien in its appearance.
The rover team originally thought it might be a piece of spacecraft debris but on closer observation, they arrived at a more prosaic explanation: a very thin flake of rock. Brittney Cooper, writing in the most recent Curiosity update offered this tongue-in-cheek comment:
“Perhaps the target should have been given a different name befitting the theme of the current quadrangle in which Curiosity resides: “Rabhadh Ceàrr”, or “False Alarm” in Scottish Gaelic.”
In this closeup view, the mystery object begins to look more like what it really is — a thin slab of rock. I bet it would make a great ...