A NASA rover just found trash on Mars
Signs of exploration.
By Mark Kaufman on June 15, 2022
There's trash in the deepest ocean depths, at some 35,700 feet beneath
the surface. There's also trash on Mars.
While looking for hints of past microbial Martian life, NASA's
Perseverance rover recently spotted landing debris caught in a jagged
rock. It's thermal material the space agency used to protect the
Perseverance spacecraft from extreme temperatures as it journeyed to
Mars and plummeted through the Martian atmosphere.
"My team has spotted something unexpected: It’s a piece of a thermal
blanket that they think may have come from my descent stage, the
rocket-powered jet pack that set me down on landing day back in 2021,"
NASA tweeted from the Perseverance rover account on Wednesday.
landing debris on Mars
Foil from thermal material used on the Perseverance spacecraft that the
rover found trapped in a rock. Credit: NASA
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A looming question is how the foil-like debris found its way to this
region in Mars' Jezero Crater, some two kilometers (1.2 miles) from
where landing gear (the "rocket-powered jet pack") crashed in the
"Did this piece land here after that, or was it blown here by the wind?"
the space agency wondered.
The Perseverance rover expertly landed on Mars in February 2021. On its
way down, the spacecraft holding the rover ditched a variety of
instruments and objects, including a heat shield, a supersonic
parachute, and a rocket-powered sky crane that lowered the rover to the
ground. The car-sized robot has already rumbled by its jettisoned
parachute, so it's not terribly surprising the rover now stumbled by
more landing debris.
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Perseverance doesn't have much time to admire trash. It's now entering
the prime of its mission as it explores a dried-up river delta in the
Jezero Crater. Some 3 billion years ago, NASA's planetary scientists
suspect this area was filled with water.
"This delta is one of the best locations on Mars for the rover to look
for signs of past microscopic life," NASA said.
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