What is this strange cluster of threads photographed on Mars by the Perseverance rover?

What is this strange cluster of threads photographed on Mars by the Perseverance rover?

Ball of yarn, piece of string, space spaghetti… A strange object photographed in mid-July on Mars by the Perseverance rover leaves experts perplexed. “There are a lot of uncertainties,” confirmed a NASA spokesperson.

The most plausible explanation is however quite down to earth. According to some hypotheses, it could be pieces of the rope that connected Perseverance to the parachute that slowed its descent when it landed on Mars. It could also be the rope used to lower him during the last few meters (a stage called “skycrane”).

Small ropes moved by the wind

It wouldn’t be the first time the little rover has faced its own equipment on Martian soil. In June, another photo showed what looked like a piece of aluminum foil, wedged between two red stones. It was actually a piece of thermal insulation from the descent stage.

“It can be assumed that these small pieces of debris were moved by the wind after landing,” said the NASA spokesman. This waste is probably still moving: a few days after the photo, the rover went back to the same place but the pile of threads had disappeared.

Other debris photographed by Ingenuity

The image was taken by the rover in the delta of an ancient river that scientists say flowed into a huge lake billions of years ago. This is where Perseverance searches for traces of ancient life. In place of the lake today is the Jezero crater, where the rover landed in February 2021 and where it photographed its parachute two months later.

Recently, the Ingenuity space helicopter captured even more impressive images in flight: the parachute, but also the rear shield that contained the latter before its deployment. The shield appears heavily damaged from the impact of the landing. The study of these images can “help to allow safer landings in the future”, had then commented on NASA.

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