This image contributed to an interpretation by NASA's Mars rover Curiosity science team that some of the bright particles on the ground near the rover are native Martian material. Other light-toned material nearby (see PIA16230) has been assessed as small debris from the spacecraft.
Curiosity's Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) camera took this image on the mission's 66th Martian day, or sol, (Oct. 12, 2012) showing part of the hole or bite left in the ground when Curiosity collected its first scoop of Martian soil five sols earlier. A clod of soil near the top center of the image contains a light-toned particle. The observation that the particle is embedded in the clod led scientists to assess this particle as Martian material, not something from the spacecraft. This assessment prompted the mission to continue scooping in the area, despite observations of a few light-toned particles in the area being scooped.
The image shows an area about 2 inches (5 centimeters) across. It is brightened to improve visibility in the shaded area.
JPL manages the Mars Science Laboratory/Curiosity for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The rover was designed, developed and assembled at JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.