NASA's Perseverance rover has spotted a noodle-like object on Mars
Last month, NASA's Perseverance rover, currently roaming on Mars, took a rare photo of a shiny silver object wedged between two rocks on the floor of Mars' Jezero Crater and beamed it back to Earth for all to see.
The object, it turned out, was a piece of the rover's own junk.
"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," Perseverance team members wrote on Twitter at the time.
An interesting piece of debris that could come from the rover
Now, the crafty rover has spotted yet another interesting piece of debris, this time in the shape of spaghetti. The image was taken on Tuesday, and it's got researchers confused.
So far, we know that it comes from one of the rover's front-facing hazard avoidance cameras that keep an eye on the landscape to protect the rover when it's driving or using its robotic arm. But we don't yet know what it is.
The most plausible explanation is that it could be junk from NASA's Mars mission, just like the previously spotted object. After all, we are pretty sure there are no spaghetti restaurants up on Mars.
Other aircraft have also taken images of human junk on Mars. In April, Mars' chopper Ingenuity, which came to Mars at the same time as Perseverance, took aerial images of the wreckage of the descent shell and parachute.
Our impact in space and on other planets
Images like these are a good reminder that we have an influence on where we travel and that we should proceed with caution. Although it's not possible to visit a planet and leave nothing behind, it is best to minimize this kind of garbage.
After all, our space atmosphere now has a junk problem because of all the objects we have been sending into it. We wouldn't want other planets to suffer the same fate.
Currently, Perseverance is exploring the Jezero Crater and studying a former river delta, a place that's an ideal spot to look for signs of ancient microbial life. What it brings back from this mission could be key to understanding whether the Red Planet is indeed a host to alien life.
The Mars Perseverance rover completed a year anniversary on the Red Planet last February. On February 18, 2021, the spacecraft carrying NASA's $2.7 billion robotic explorer named Perseverance placed the rover gently on the foreign planet. The event marked NASA's most enthusiastic and thorough effort in decades to study if there was ever life on the Red Planet.
Dr. Stiavelli relates his efforts to meet the challenges of the sunshield, and the comparison of the cameras from the Hubble Space Telescope to the James Webb Space Telescope.