Last month, NASA’s Perseverance rover, currently roaming on Mars, captured a rare image of a shiny silver object stuck between two rocks on the floor of Mars’ Jezero Crater and beamed-it back to Earth so everyone can see it.
It turns out that this object is part of the rover’s own junk.
“My team discovered something unexpected: It was a piece of thermal blanket that they thought might have come from my descent stage, the rocket-powered jet that set-me down on the day of landing back-in 2021,” wrote Perseverance team members wrote on Twitter at the time.
Interesting piece debris could be from rover
So far, we know it’s from one of the rover front-facing hazard avoidance cameras that monitor the landscape to protect the rover while driving or using its robotic arm. But we still don’t know what it is.
The most likely explanation is that it could be a piece of debris from NASA’s Mars mission, like the one discovered earlier. After all, we’re pretty sure there are no spaghetti restaurants on Mars.
Other rovers have also captured images of human junk on Mars. In April, the Mars Ingenuity chopper, which arrived on Mars at the same time as Perseverance, took aerial photos of the debris of the descent shell and the parachute.
Our impact in space and on other planets
Images like these remind us that we have an influence on where we travel and that we must proceed with caution. While it’s impossible to visit a planet and leave nothing behind, it’s best to minimize this type of waste.
After all, our space atmosphere now has a garbage problem due to all the objects we sent there. We don’t want other planets to suffer the same fate.
Currently, Perseverance is exploring Jezero Crater and studying an ancient river delta, a great place to look for signs of ancient microbial life. What it reports from this mission could be the key to understanding whether the Red Planet is really a place of extraterrestrial life.
The Mars Perseverance rover celebrated its birthday on the red planet last February. On February 18, 2021, NASA’s $2.7 billion robotic explorer spacecraft called Perseverance placed the rover gently on the alien planet. The event marks NASA’s most enthusiastic and thorough effort in decades to investigate whether there was ever life on the Red Planet.