Mars mystery: NASA rover spots silver object wedged between rocks on Red Planet

MARS — NASA’s Perseverance rover sparked interest this week when it spotted a mysterious silver object lodged between some rocks on Mars. However, the space agency has quickly dampened conspiracy theorists’ excitement by claiming it is debris from the rover’s landing equipment.

Ultimately, experts concluded the debris is a thermal blanket that likely came loose during the spacecraft’s landing on Mars. That said, it’s certainly a mystery how it somehow found its way 2km away from where the descent happened.

Mars thermal blanket
Close-up shot of debris spotted by NASA’s Perseverance. (Credit: NASA)

“Speaking” for itself, the rover discussed its strange finding on Twitter. “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,” the tweet says. “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?”

NASA also produced a photograph of what appears to be the same material on Earth.

They explained: “Here’s part of the team at JPL (Jet Propulsion Laboratory) that wrapped me up in thermal blankets. Think of them as spacecraft dressmakers. They work with sewing machines and other tools to piece together these unique materials.”

The discovery has not gone down well with some environmentally-friendly humans.

Social media user Gerald commented: “Humans leave garbage wherever they go. Mars was not going to be an exception.” Another posted: “So it’s not enough to trash the earth, we’re littering on other planets now. This can’t possibly backfire.”

NASA’s Perseverance rover’s mission is to look for signs of past microbial life, cache rock and soil samples, and prepare for future human exploration.

Recently, some more conspiracy theories were sparked after another photo taken by the Curiosity rover appeared to show a “doorway” of sorts in a rock formation. Ultimately, that theory was also debunked by experts who say the photo simply zoomed in on a crevice in a much larger rock wall.

Report by Dean Murray, South West News Service

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