As Curiosity scooped up its first dirt on Mars for analysis by the rover's high-tech instruments earlier this week, NASA scientists became concerned when they saw bright particles in the soil.
In previous days, the rover's cameras sent back images of a bright fleck in the dirt -- which, according to NASA, turned out to be a half-inch-long shred of debris from the spacecraft. So the bright particle in images taken by the Mars Hand Lens Imager on Monday "prompted concern," NASA said.
As the Los Angeles Times reported Thursday, the mission's science team has now determined that these particles are all-Martian.
The rover's Twitter stream tweeted: "Distinctly Martian: Just had my 1st taste of Red Planet regolith. Mineral analysis underway."
The soil samples are the latest adventure for the rover as it heads toward Gale Crater, a multilayered mound that may hold more clues to whether the planet ever hosted microbial life.