June 25, 2022

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NASA rover sighting renews concerns about human space debris | Mars

NASA’s Perseverance rover typically sends back evocative images of bleak dusty landscapes, red-colored sandstorms and Martian rock samples. So its operators were surprised to receive on Monday a photo of a shiny silver object that looked like a brittle, neglected bundle wedged between two rocks.

The NASA team concluded that the object is a piece of debris discarded by the robotic craft during its descent in February 2021.

“My team discovered 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 put me on landing day in 2021,” perseverance twitter account mentioned.

“This shiny piece of tin is part of a thermal blanket — a substance used to control temperatures. It’s a surprise to discover this here: My descent phase crashed about 2 km away. Did this piece land here then, or was it blown away by the wind?”

The image has reignited fears that space exploration threatens to pollute the pristine environments of Mars and the Moon. The The Outer Space Treaty of 1967 Create an obligation under international law to avoid harmful pollution of outer space, the moon, and other celestial bodies, but some argue that the law is not detailed enough to ensure protection.

However, in the litter of perseverance, Professor Andrew Coates, an astronomer at UCLA Mullard space The science lab said, “The good news is that everything is sterilized before it goes to Mars, and the space radiation environment helps during the nine-month journey to Mars as does the harsh surface environment.”

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“Since it is very difficult to land Mars Because of the thin atmosphere, the landing craft are almost always associated with landing system hardware that also land on the surface — parachutes, rear missiles, landing systems — such as the Perseverance and Curiosity celestial lift, airbags and legacy missile systems for earlier missions.” “These fly until sunset.” from the landing site and eventually crashes, but the risk of contamination is very low.”

Avoiding pollution is essential for tasks like perseverance, which look for signs of ancient life in them Jezero crater on Mars. Scientists believe that more than 3.5 billion years ago, the area inundated and was home to ancient river deltas. It is conceivable that microbial life may have survived on Jezero during this wetter period, so the car-sized craft collects soil samples to return to Earth that scientists can assess for signs of ancient life.