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‘Unexpected’: NASA’s Mars rover finds shiny piece of foil on rock

This story is part Welcome to Marsour series exploring the red planet.

Do you remember the Sesame Street song One of These Things (Is Not Like the Others)? NASA’s Perseverance rover spotted something unlike any other on Mars. On June 13, Percy took a photo of a rock that had a strange object stuck on it.

The object is a piece of aluminum foil with visible dots all over it. “My team 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 dropped me off on the day of the landing in 2021”, the rover team tweeted on Wednesday.

NASA JPL spokesman Andrew Good told CNET that the part was likely from a thermal blanket. “What’s less specific is what part of the spacecraft it came from – the team thinks the descent stage is a good possibility – or how exactly it got here (the descent stage s crashed two kilometers away; whether it landed here after that crash or was blown over by the wind is not something we know),” Good said in an email.

A closer look at the piece of foil shows the regular dots on its surface.


The rover managed to capture the disappearance of the descent step after landing on Mars in February 2021. Descent equipment was designed to bring the rover to the surface and then back away to protect the vehicle and its landing site. The accident created a plume of smoke visible in the distance.

The blankets helped regulate temperatures during the dramatic process of entry, descent and landing, also known as the “seven minutes of terror”.

Percy’s Social Media Managers highlighted the people who make the thermal blankets, saying, “Think of them as spaceship seamstresses. They work with sewing machines and other tools to assemble these unique materials. An image shows samples of the cover materials, including those with dots that match the piece seen on Mars.

Percy checks a ancient river delta region inside Jezero Crater. The rover team hopes to find evidence of ancient microbial life on Mars, so a location with a history of water is a prime location to investigate and collect rock samples that will hopefully be returned to Earth for study. .

The delta has already proven to be incredibly scenic, as this stunning of a landscape shows. Leaf discovery adds a layer of intrigue to the rover’s explorations. How it got there is a mystery that could be left for future space archaeologists to solve when they visit Mars one day.

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