A strange sight that has NASA puzzled – litter on Mars?
No, it’s not yet a symbol of existing Martian life, but rather human garbage loitering on Mars. The Perseverance rover of NASA spotted what could be considered the first-ever litter on Mars. No pun intended, but it’s something we humans shouldn’t be proud of.
Since its landing last year, the NASA rover has been looking for signs of life in the rocky landscape of Jezero Crater on Mars. However, the litter that they have found sounds alarming rather than promising. The human garbage on the red planet is not a good sign.
The Perseverance team shared a photo on Twitter that they’d found a piece of a thermal blanket. Astronauts use this to protect the rover from any extreme temperatures when it lands.
That shiny bit of foil is part of a thermal blanket – a material used to control temperatures. It’s a surprise finding this here: My descent stage crashed about 2 km away. Did this piece land here after that, or was it blown here by the wind? pic.twitter.com/uVx3VdYfi8
— NASA's Perseverance Mars Rover (@NASAPersevere) June 15, 2022
In the photo they shared on Tuesday, there is a shiny silver object between two rocks. The litter is sitting on the floor of the Mars crater.
True to its source, the rover’s handlers confirmed that the space litter is not of a Mars origin. But instead, a material that came from Earth.
The Perseverance team wrote, “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.
They added, “That shiny bit of foil is part of a thermal blanket. It is a material used to control temperatures. It’s a surprise finding this here: My descent stage crashed about 2 km away. Did this piece land here after that, or was blown here by the wind?”
Leftovers on Mars
Furthermore, this isn’t the first time the rover has left some unpleasant memento on Mars. Last April, NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter caught a human-made piece of junk in bird’s-eye-view. Before, the landing gear helped the Perseverance rover to go to Mars.
That aerial shots help engineers test the condition and performance of the chute and the back shell. This is significant in future Mars missions. The NASA officials have stated.
Former Perseverance systems engineer Ian Clark said, “Perseverance had the best-documented Mars landing in history, with cameras showing everything from parachute inflation to touchdown.”
From earlier, distant views, my team nicknamed this area “the bacon strip.” (My overhead map shows why.) Now that I’m up on top, we’re calling it “Hogwallow Flats” – and the nearby rocks are a sight to behold. My team is happy as pigs in mud(stone)!
— NASA's Perseverance Mars Rover (@NASAPersevere) June 16, 2022
Clark added, “If they either reinforce that our systems worked as we think they worked or provide even one dataset of engineering information we can use for Mars Sample return planning, it will be amazing. And if not, the pictures are still phenomenal and inspiring.”
NASA Perseverance’s primary mission is to search for signs of old microbial life near the site of Jezero Crater. This crater is an ancient river delta.
On a positive note, the rover has taken multiple exciting photos that don’t portray human garbage. This weekend, Perseverance took an incredible shot from Jezero’s delta region. It shows a rock and a balancing boulder that looks like an open-mouthed snake head.
Moreover, space agencies are concerned about the growing issue of space junk. Mission fragments are sometimes left in space. Apollo missions have left shovels, boots, and even an entire vehicle on the moon. Such litters can contaminate the planetary bodies.
The Earth’s orbit is getting more crowded with space junk and satellites. Thus, conducting space explorations is becoming a threat to space. All those junks surrounded our planet, including burned-up boosters, screwdrivers, and other leftovers. These can be dangerous to the International Space Station.