Washington, June 16 (IANS) NASA’s Mars Perseverance rover has spotted a shiny silver object that looks like a discarded packet or foil stuck between two rocks on the Red Planet.
The image, captured by the rover’s left Mastcam-Z camera on June 13, looks like a piece of debris discarded by the robotic craft during its touchdown in February 2021.
According to Perseverance officials, the “shiny bit of foil is part of a thermal blanket – a material used to control temperatures”.
“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,” officials from the Perseverance shared on Twitter.
However, the officials said that the rocket that landed the rover descended about 2 km away from the area where the shiny foil was found. They said it is unclear how the material landed there, or whether it got blown away due to Martian winds.
“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?”
In their tweet, Perseverance officials called the people who make thermal blankets as “spacecraft dressmakers”.
“Think of them as spacecraft dressmakers. They work with sewing machines and other tools to piece together these unique materials.”
NASA’s Perseverance rover touched down on Mars on February 18, 2021.
The six-wheeled scientist aims to characterise Mars’ geology and past climate, pave the way for human exploration of the Red Planet, and be the first mission to collect and cache Martian rock and regolith (broken rock and dust).