Mars might be 300 million miles away, but it’s not immune from the trash. While not a single human being inhabits Mars, there’s already at least one piece of litter dotting the Red Planet according to the Twitter account for NASA’s Perseverance Mars Rover. Reportedly, NASA’s rover spotted an unexpected piece of trash on the red planet in the form of a shiny object wedged between two pieces of rock.
Perseverance, nicknamed Percy, is a car-sized Mars rover designed to explore the Jezero crater on Mars as part of NASA’s Mars 2020 mission. It was manufactured by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and launched on 30 July 2020, at 05:50 CST. Confirmation that the rover successfully landed on Mars was received on 18 February 2021, at 14:55 CST. As of 17 June 2022, Perseverance has been active on Mars for 471 sols (484 Earth days) since its landing.
So What Is This Piece Of Trash?
In a series of posts to Twitter, the Perseverance team shared that they’d spotted what is believed to be a piece of a thermal blanket that was used to protect the rover from extreme temperatures during its landing.
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. pic.twitter.com/O4rIaEABLu— NASA's Perseverance Mars Rover (@NASAPersevere) June 15, 2022
Location Of Thermal Blanket
“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?” read a follow-up post.
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
Other Pieces Of Trash Found On Mars
The piece of the blanket isn’t the only trash that Perseverance has brought to Mars. In April, NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter took photos of the gear left behind when Perseverance landed.
Space Junk Is A Growing Problem
The garbage on Mars is an example of a growing problem. As humans explore space, they leave trash behind. Debris from previous missions includes boots, parachutes, and entire vehicles. The Department of Defense’s global Space Surveillance Network sensors currently track more than 27,000 pieces of “space junk” orbiting the Earth, according to NASA.