Overheard: What are those shiny objects on Mars?
October 23rd, 2012
10:58 AM ET

Overheard: What are those shiny objects on Mars?

Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on CNN.com series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.

Last week, NASA scientists announced that the Mars rover Curiosity had found something unexpected: small bright objects. These one-millimeter flecks didn't appear to originate from the rover, but rather from Mars itself. They could be part of the soil forming process, or they could be minerals cut in particular ways that make them look shiny in sunlight.

More than 550 people commented on this story. Most people had fun guessing what the shiny objects might be.

John writes:

My first guess would be some sort of silica particles. If you look at sand formed from weathered quartz, there will be lots of small, bright reflections.

And then there were perhaps less likely explanations: Several commenters joked that the objects are the hidden secrets of President Obama and Mitt Romney. On the other hand, Howard wrote, "The first thing that popped into my mind when I read that headline was, 'beer can pop-tops!'"

"It's Martian poop!" wrote vatossan. Major Tom claimed to have "dropped some loose change" there - "Sorry if I caused any confusion," he wrote.

Oneal wrote:

One may wonder what kind and what amount of natural resources it would take for Mars colonization timetable to be a priority of humanity. Very interesting time to be alive. Even if researchers find something there's no way to get there and back with a haul of martian natural gas that will exist in my lifetime. Still, its pretty cool!

There are even some people who still believe that no one ever landed on Mars or the moon for that matter, such as Big Al:

They have never landed on the Moon, and Curiosity rover never landed on Mars, either. Such images are either from the Western Desert (Egypt) and/or the Death Valley, Nevada, U.S.A.

Some people were optimistic and supportive of NASA’s efforts: Blmarcus wrote:

Can I just say that with all the news of war, death, asinine campaign bickering, and general badness, these photos by the Curiosity and NASA's work in general are an inspiring oasis. It is incredible to see new pictures of Mars and learn about it on a regular, if not daily, basis. When you consider that the Iraq War cost *at least* $757.8 billion, then $2.6 billion to explore Mars and NOT kill anyone is a bargain. Thank you NASA, the US government, and the American taxpayer for these genuinely happy moments in my day.

But of course, you will always have those who don’t think that Curiosity, or NASA as a whole, is worth the money put into it. “Meh” brought some sarcasm to the conversation:

Wow, small shiny things on Mars...I wish we had something like that on Earth.
I love the fact that we're exploring Mars but the media just cant be silent if there's nothing to say.

CNN's Elizabeth Landau contributed to this report.

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Filed under: In Space • Mars • Overheard on CNN.com • Voices
soundoff (197 Responses)
  1. 2012 checking account promotions

    Terrific post however I was wanting to know if you could write a litte more on this subject? I'd be very thankful if you could elaborate a little bit further. Cheers!

    November 2, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
  2. devtheron

    a NASA "rat"(first spacerat" )must have found its way, and took a trip to mars.("stowaway" ) -It explain the bits of plastic, and now that its dead, its giving off methane. Comment from the REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA

    October 25, 2012 at 2:21 am |
  3. Rick Shultz

    I still think this is just a piece of iron pyrite. Given the conditions we have found on Mars i.e. volcanism and probable siginificant oxygen in the early atmosphere on Mars, it's my humble opinion that iron pyrite is the mineral most likely to form.

    October 24, 2012 at 7:57 pm |
  4. Kevin

    It looks like a Martian's tooth!

    October 24, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
  5. Mike

    Looks like plain old Mica to me.

    October 24, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
  6. TonyFromItaly

    It's a small piece of gold!

    October 24, 2012 at 12:05 pm |
  7. flycatcher

    So big fancy rover, pick the damn thing up and analyze iy, isn't that why you were built and sent there. Just do it it isn't an IED!

    October 24, 2012 at 3:10 am |
  8. butch


    October 23, 2012 at 9:58 pm |
  9. Larry

    Are my eyes playing tricks on me? The soil in the photo looks Moist, not dry as would be expected of Mars' soil

    October 23, 2012 at 8:13 pm |
  10. LT7890

    ............ Looks like i win ," Fish Scales " the only logical thing it could possibly be ,

    October 23, 2012 at 7:47 pm |
  11. LT7890

    Its just " Fish Scales " left over from when they had water there , must have been a Lake there .
    ............... " Lake Moony" ............

    October 23, 2012 at 7:45 pm |
  12. ExRays

    Dere's gold in dem' dar hills!!!

    October 23, 2012 at 7:42 pm |
  13. BralenX

    Looks like NesCafe to me.

    October 23, 2012 at 7:38 pm |
  14. an old miner

    looks like river-bed-material and its still moist, this is just the kind of combonation your would expect to see on earth.

    October 23, 2012 at 7:35 pm |
  15. an old miner

    here on the earth there's an old saying "only one thing looks like gold."... we know the sun cranks out buttloads of atomized gold 24/7.

    October 23, 2012 at 7:30 pm |
  16. 2a godim


    October 23, 2012 at 7:14 pm |
  17. spyroo

    when you find rivers of water and an amazon like in brazil let me know

    October 23, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
  18. svann


    October 23, 2012 at 6:36 pm |
  19. S sauve

    did any one locate the coin with the numb. 6 stamped on it and the black guy with ornate art around his head

    October 23, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
  20. Owl Creek Observer

    A film crew from Gold Rush is probably trying to charter a rocket to Mars as we speak.

    October 23, 2012 at 6:17 pm |
  21. Leroy Jenkins

    Hey would you look at that? it's a small shinny thingy......Huh......I wonder where that came from, what the ???? I can't seem to get the buggy thingy to go....Holy crap, that's a LUG NUT!.......

    October 23, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
  22. stu

    Elvis sequins

    October 23, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
  23. keith

    Avatar Poop..... Maybe the Discovery channel can make a new reality show MARS GOLD DIGGERS... We only have 4 shows so far....

    October 23, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
  24. jon

    No .. No ... better yet, a 2054 penny with President Romney's face on it ... wouldn't that just totally affect the election ... LOL

    October 23, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
  25. jon

    Do you know what I would like to be found by the rover ... a 1972 penny "D" - LOL, then lets see that the scientist would say. LOL

    October 23, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
  26. jon

    It is living proof that John Carter was on Mars

    October 23, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
  27. proceednet

    For all their knowledge, science, and degrees, NASA is still mesmerized by bright shiny objects!

    October 23, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
  28. devtheron

    If we have no explanation for things on earth, why do we act as if we need to understand that mars would be any different.

    When we enter the unknown, we need to fill the gaps with our imagination. When we see things at first glance to be bits of plastic, then we need to bring it into understanding. What would New York look like after a few billion years. Perhaps a few bits of shiny stuff will blow across the planet, and collect in craters. Did we not go there to discover life, or are we thinking that life only happened after earth was colonized.

    Perhaps imagination brought us to where we are today. To understand where we are from, we need to imagine. Does imagination not embrace the entire world? Is our world not that what God created? Do we think that whatever we imagine can not be possible, or do we believe, that God had made us to imagine His creation.

    Imagination is the realm of our understanding. It is the container that hold our thoughts. We have to use it. Knowledge is a puzzle of understanding, and it end within a singularity-Where all are known! Consciousness is what is created, to gather matter through knowledge, and to form itself into a singularity, where all knowledge is known, and all is revealed as true. Think of it;)

    This is how the universe defrag itself. We are all one, and whatever evolve, forms consciousness, humans gather knowledge through memes, and so we complete the puzzles. Discovering life, is no big deal. Everything repeat itself. over, and over...like a tree...the fruit, an earth...humans...then the earth die, and knowledge is harvest, and it complete the puzzle like a hard disk that defragment it, only, we defrag into a singularity.

    October 23, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
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