Science

Perseverance rover discovers shiny, silver debris on the Red Planet (pictured)

No, this is not evidence of advanced (but sloppy) Martian life.

On Monday (June 13), NASA’s Perseverance rover photographed a shiny silver object sandwiched between two rocks at the bottom of Jezero Crater on the Red Planet, which the car-sized robot has been exploring since landing in February 2021.

This space debris is not native to Mars; Persistence pulled it off Earth, rover operators said.

On the subject: 12 amazing photos of the first year of the Perseverance rover on Mars

“My team discovered something unexpected: it’s a piece of thermal blanket that they thought might have appeared on my descent stage, a rocket-powered jetpack that landed me on landing day back in 2021,” wrote members of the Perseverance team. through the website. Rover’s Twitter account (will open in a new tab) today (June 15).

“This shiny piece of foil is part of a thermal blanket, a material used to control temperature. It’s amazing that I found it here: my descent stage crashed about 2 km away. [1.2 miles] away. Did this piece land here after that, or was it blown here by the wind?” they added in another tweet. (will open in a new tab)which showed a close-up of a piece of a blanket.

This isn’t the first time we’ve looked at the gear that helped Perseverance get into the red mud safely. NASA’s tiny Ingenuity helicopter flew over the rover’s hull and parachute on April 19, snapping stunning photos from multiple angles.

These aerial photographs help engineers assess the characteristics and condition of the hull and chute, which could help design future missions to Mars, NASA officials said.

To learn more

Perseverance hunts for signs of ancient life on Mars and collects samples for a future return to Earth. According to members of the mission, Jezero had a lake and a river delta billions of years ago, and therefore this is an excellent place for such work.

The rover has taken many interesting photographs that do not show scraps of its own protective gear. Over the weekend, for example, Perseverance took a memorable shot from the Jezero Delta, showing a balancing boulder and a rock that looked strikingly like an open-mouthed snake’s head.

Mike Wall is the author of Out There (will open in a new tab)(Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrations by Carl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall (will open in a new tab). Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom (will open in a new tab) or on facebook (will open in a new tab).

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