Although no humans have yet set foot on Mars, NASA’s Perseverance rover has found surprising, but too human, evidence of our visits to the red planet: the garbage.
The thermal blanket that pollutes Mars. NASA / JPL-Caltech / ASU image credits.
Where people go, garbage follows. But it seems that it can even precede us! The team monitoring NASA’s Perseverance Mars Rover announced on its Twitter channel on Wednesday that the space robot has encountered human-generated debris on the red planet.
While the discovery helps a lot to show the effect we can have on the world around us, even in places we haven’t reached yet, it’s a pretty fun discovery. Perseverance was sent to Mars to look for proof of life, and today she did: she found proof of the life that sent her there.
Where no man has left trash before
“My team has detected 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 dropped me on the day of landing in 2021. “says the rover ‘s Twitter channel.
The team says they were “surprised” when the rover came across the piece of thermal blanket where it did so, as the site is about 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) away from where it landed. the rover on Mars. Thermal blankets are insulating coatings that are used to protect crafts during the atmospheric descent and look like a padded metal foil. Perseverance wrapped itself in this material before it was loaded onto the rocket that took it to Mars.
It is not yet clear if the piece broke during the descent and landed at this location, or if it was blown here from the landing site by Martian winds.
This piece of thermal blanket joins the only other artificial rubbish known on Mars: the gear left behind when Perseverance landed, photographed by NASA’s Ingenuity Mars helicopter in April.
As funny as this news may be, however, it points to a very real and growing topic. As we move further into space, we will invariably leave garbage. It is well known that remains such as boots, parachutes and even entire vehicles have been left behind from past missions. Closer to Earth, the Department of Defense’s global space surveillance network tracks more than 27,000 pieces of “space debris” orbiting our planet, according to NASA. If this accumulation continues, we may be stranded on Earth.
“In the near-Earth space environment there is much more debris, too small to be traced, but large enough to threaten human spaceflight and robotic missions,” NASA said. “Because both the debris and the spacecraft travel at extremely high speeds (approximately 15,700 mph in low Earth orbit), the impact of even a small piece of orbital debris with a spacecraft could create major problems.”
The International Space Station is already at risk for this space debris, but there are almost no regulations that protect space from debris. As more and more humans enter space, these problems will have to be addressed in one way or another.