On Mars, a unique kind of “weed” rolls across the plains of Mars.
These weeds are not plants – they are bits of debris from the entry, descent and landing (EDL) devices of NASA’s Perseverance Vehicle. Percy came across many of these remains, and photographed them so that engineers could study them.
During Landing on February 18, 2021a number of instrumentation items slowed the spacecraft from 12,500 mph (20,000 km/h) when it first entered. Mars atmosphere to essentially zero mph when it was gently placed on the surface by a sky crane. And it all happened in just seven minutes.
Related: 7 new minutes of horror: Watch the impressive Mars landing stages of NASA’s Perseverance rover in this video
Once their jobs were complete, EDL hardware such as the parachute, rear cover, heat shield, and sky lift were all discarded from the persistent rover, and crashed into Mars some distance from the rover so as not to damage it.
Over the past year and a half, the Perseverance Team has discovered and cataloged about half a dozen suspected EDL debris. The first piece was discovered on April 16, 2022, when an unusually bright object was spotted in one of the Perseverance Mastcam-Z panoramic images. “The material was given a descriptive name: ‘bright material,'” NASA wrote in the NASA journal. Nobody knew what it was at the time, but perhaps the rover will take a closer look as it climbs into the delta in the coming weeks. Blog post (Opens in a new tab).
Several months later, perseverance reached that place in the delta, called Hogwallow Flats. On June 12, 2022, I photographed the mysterious object, suspected to be a Sky Crane Multilayer Insulation (MLI) piece, made of either perforated Kapton Aluminized (PAK) or Mylar, that flutters in the wind like a flag. In the same area, the rover also captured a shot of a fast-moving knotted ball of “thread-like substance”. This could be dacron, a mesh used in thermal blankets, according to the operations team.
Interestingly, the Hogwallow Flats are more than 1.25 miles (two kilometres) from Perseverance’s EDL impact zones. NASA notes that “Hogwallow Flats appear to be a natural gathering point for windblown EDL debris.”
Perseverance helicopter companion cleverness He approached some of the wreckage of the Electricite du Liban. On April 19, 2022, Ingenuity flew over the crash site of the Perseverance and Parachute rear platform, Capture high-resolution photos of debris.
Such fields of deliberately discarded debris are not uncommon on Mars, as landings on the Red Planet are usually fairly violent events. no Chance And the Curiosity of The roving vehicles also photographed suspected wreckage of the Electricité du Liban (EDL).
For now, landing spacecraft safely on Mars is the number one priority, but as we continue to plant spacecraft on the planet, researchers will need to consider the effects of such space junk. “Engineers who design EDL instruments for future missions will need to consider (literally) the impact of their designs on Mars and mission requirements,” NASA said.
Follow Stephanie Daddy on Twitter Tweet embed (Opens in a new tab). Follow us on Twitter Tweet embed (Opens in a new tab) and on Facebook (Opens in a new tab).
“Beer fan. Travel specialist. Amateur alcohol scholar. Bacon trailblazer. Music fanatic.”