I created this topic to document my continuing examination of the Plastic (officially Schmutz_001) that was initially observed after the first scoop at Rocknest on Sol 61.
I do not believe it is Plastic. I believe it either came from the scoop and was dropped when it vibrated or it formed in situ.
Before they even knew what is was, the said:
"The rover team's assessment is that the bright object is something from the rover, not Martian material. It appears to be a shred of plastic material, likely benign, but it has not been definitively identified."
Take note of the language: "something," "appears to be," and, "likely."
Here's a translation to English:
"We took a look at it and we have no idea what it is, other than it is a bright object. It is definitely something, though. Although we don't know what it is, our best guess is that it is plastic because it kinda looks like plastic. We used to think it was a screw because it was little and silver like a screw. We can confidently and directly state for a fact with absolutely no qualifiers like "possible," "likely," or "appears to be," that it's NOT FROM MARS. We sure hope that its not something that will hurt the taxpayers' billion dollar machine and source of our jobs."
Here's the official explanation as to how it ended up there:
"Over the past two sols ... the team has assessed the object as likely to be some type of plastic wrapper material, such as a tube used around a wire, possibly having fallen onto the rover from ... descent stage during the landing."
Take note of the language: "likely to be," "such as," and, "possibly having."
What a most incredible journey for this half-an-inch-probably-weighs-as-much-as-a-feather piece of plastic. Either that epic journey happened or it simply came from the hole they dug the day they found it (or it was sitting there and they didn't see it on Sol 55).
When they first saw it on a Sol 61 Mastcam image, they thought it was a "possible screw." This was obviously proven to be incorrect when they got the Sol 62 ChemCam images. Then, they said it was a piece of plastic. It is clear that their examination was superficial as it was comprised solely of visual observation.
I processed this image in order to bring out the detail of the black "dust" around it:
I observe that the Plastic is quite tiny. According to NASA/JPL, it is "about half an inch long." It just so happens, just about everything else in the picture is equally as small:
Further, the rocks and dust surrounding the Plastic appear to share some of the same characteristics:
I also believe that the same features visible around the Plastic were observed on Sol 159 at Wernecke:
Interestingly, they decided not to zap it with the laser before they even knew what it was.
But they zapped the similar area at Wernecke:
They can be wrong. They were clearly wrong about the "possible screw." If they're wrong about it being plastic, too, then we're out of terrestrial things it could be, so we're left it is from Mars. What could it be then? Perhaps a "feature that may represent the effects of biological processes" (quote taken directly from the third of Curiosity's eight main scientific objectives)?