What are those shiny objects on Mars?

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 vatossanMajor 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.

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