The trash humans create is causing harm to the Earth. We’ve seen our pollution on the highest mountain peaks, the deepest corners of the ocean, and most recently, our trash has been found in fresh Antarctic snow. And now, NASA’s Perseverance Rover has found trash on Mars.
NASA’s Perseverance rover has been on Mars for over a year, collecting data and looking for hints of present or past microbial life. Recently, the rover discovered something – but it wasn’t Martian life.
On June 15, the Twitter account for NASA’s Perseverance rover tweeted that it had come across something – debris of some form that was caught in a jagged rock. When the rover got closer, it was clear that the trash was from the rover itself.
“My team has spotted something unexpected,” the tweet read, which included a photo where you could vaguely see something in the rock ahead. “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.”
In a follow-up tweet, with a closer image of the debris, the thermal blanket can be seen quite easily. “That shiny bit of foil is part of a thermal blanket – a material used to control temperatures,” the tweet explained. “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?”
While on Mars, the NASA Perseverance rover’s main objectives are to collect samples of dirt and rock and stash them on the surface of Mars so they could be picked up on a future mission to bring back to Earth.
We’re guessing the thermal blanket’s not going to be something they choose to fly back, but technically, it is human trash in space, so maybe they should. Or it could serve as a message to the beyond.