NASA’s Perseverance rover spies surprising piece of ripped thermal blanket on Mars

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Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA’s Perseverance Mars Rover spotted a bit of trash on the Martian surface. The shiny litter should look familiar to Perseverance, as it appears to be a piece of thermal blanket from the rover’s descent in early 2021.

The thermal blanket was used to control temperature,s and it was on Perseverance’s rocket-powered jet pack that the rover used to control its landing on Mars. Thermal blankets are critical to any successful space mission. Thermal blankets are made using multiple layers of Mylar films with Dacron netting. The outermost layer relies upon Kapton film or Beta cloth, which helps resist temperature changes.

The piece of thermal blanket isn’t the first detritus that Perseverance has put on Mars. In April, NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter photographed the wreckage from Perseverance’s successful landing on Mars. The photos of the wreckage will help NASA’s engineers with future missions.

While it’s clear why the wreckage from the landing mission is on the Martian surface, it’s not obvious why a piece of thermal blanket was observed, at least not in the area it was spotted. NASA’s Perseverance team writes, ‘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?’

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