NASA’s Perseverance rover has captured images of its own litter, and it shows how Mars is becoming a dumping ground

NASA’s Perseverance rover has captured images of its own litter, and it shows how Mars is becoming a dumping ground

This image was taken by MCZ_RIGHT aboard NASA's Mars Perseverance rover on Sol 467 48 NASA's Mars Perseverance rover acquired this image using its Right Mastcam-Z camera.  Mastcam-Z is a pair of cameras located high on the rover's mast.  This image was acquired on June 13, 2022 (Sol 467) at the local mean solar time of 10:05:19.

Image acquired by the Mastcam-Z of the Perseverance rover on June 13, 2022 (Sol 467).NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU

  • The Perseverance rover captured images of a piece of thermal blanket used during its landing.

  • Space debris is a growing concern, in part because it contaminates otherwise pristine planetary bodies.

  • The rover searches for signs of ancient microbial life in Jezero Crater, an ancient river delta.

The Perseverance rover has been searching for signs of life in the dusty, rocky landscape of Mars’ Jezero Crater since it landed last year. But now the rover has spotted human waste on the Red Planet’s surface.

Tuesday, the Perseverance team shared on Twitter that they had spotted what appeared to be a piece of the thermal blanket used to protect the rover from the extreme temperatures it had experienced during landing.

“It’s a surprise to find this here” since the robot’s descent occurred about 2 km away – just over a mile away, the team wrote. “Did that piece land here after that, or was it blown here?”

This is not the only waste of the rover on Mars. In April, the Ingenuity helicopter captured a birds-eye view of man-made space junk – the landing gear that helped it, and the Perseverance rover, get to Mars.

The parachute and cone-shaped back shell photographed by Ingenuity on April 19.

The parachute and cone-shaped tail shell that Ingenuity captured on April 19.NASA/JPL-Caltech

“Perseverance had the best-documented Mars landing in history, with cameras showing everything from parachute inflation to landing,” said Ian Clark, a former Perseverance systems engineer who now leads the effort. to bring Martian samples back to Earth at JPL in Southern California. in a report.

He continued: “Whether they reinforce that our systems worked the way we think they worked or provide even a data set of technical information that we can use for return planning ‘samples on Mars will be amazing. Otherwise, the images are always phenomenal and inspiring.’

Perseverance’s primary mission is to search for signs of ancient microbial life near its Jezero Crater landing site, an ancient river delta.

Audaciously pollute

Space debris is a growing concern for space agencies.

Fragments of missions left in space – like the boots, shovels and entire vehicles that the Apollo missions left behind on the Moon – can contaminate otherwise pristine planetary bodies.

And as Earth’s orbit becomes increasingly cluttered with satellites and space junk, leaving Earth for space exploration is becoming more and more dangerous. Plus, all that space junk surrounding Earth — including missing satellites, burnt-out boosters, screwdrivers, parachutes, and other remnants — can be perilous to the International Space Station.

Yet restrictions protecting space from pollution are rare. Current space law hasn’t changed much since the Outer Space Treaty, which was concluded in 1967 and isn’t too detailed. More than half a century later, as celestial bodies like Mars become dumping grounds, the gaps in the treaty are coming to light.

Aparna Venkatesan, professor of astronomy at the University of San Francisco, told an audience at an American Museum of Natural History event last month that enshrining protections against pollution of the space environment will require define it as a common heritage of human civilization.

“Do we consider space as our common ancestor?” she asked. “Whose legacy is this and how do you honor it?”

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