CURIOSITY'S MISSION MANAGER CONFIRMS THE IDENTIFICATION OF THE PLASTIC WAS MERELY THEIR "BEST GUESS" BASED SOLELY UPON A VISUAL OBSERVATION
In an October 2012 interview on NPR, Michael Watkins, the Mission Manager spoke at length about the Plastic. Here's what he said:
"The very first day, we - it looked really shiny to us, looked kind of silver, and we thought did we just shake a screw off of ourselves or something?"
"You know, like, did we just undo one of our bolts, you know? Because we did the scoop and we do a little vibration to settle the material in the scoop, kind of, you know, like if you're flour sifting or something, you kind of want to shake it down a little bit. And so we actually had a little vibration motor and we started vibing. And then we looked at the scoop and it looks great. And then we saw this little silver thing, and we just want to make sure we didn't accidentally back out a screw or do some other crazy thing."
And as soon as we took a close look at it, we could see it looked more really like a piece of plastic, more like, kind of a little bit like a shiny bit of plastic. And it kind of just caught the sun at the right angle that made it look kind of silvery. It actually looks more like a little piece of plastic."
The interviewed asked him "so you discovered plastic on Mars," to which he replied:
"Exactly. And almost certainly our own litter. So, you know, we do - it looks like a little bit of cable wrapping or cable tie-down. You know, we have lots of cables on the rover and we had lots of them, you know, in the parts of the spacecraft that we threw away, like on the heat shield and the descent stage and all that. AND SO THE BEST GUESS RIGHT NOW IS, you know, we cut a lot of cables when we start separating the spacecraft to, you know, to touchdown, throw away the heat shield. It's probably little bits and pieces of that stuff that kind of, you know, fluttered down and is around us still."
He confirms the incredible journey theory is merely "a best guess."