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The Perseverance rover tries to unravel the mystery of the Martian ball

The Perseverance rover tries to unravel the mystery of the Martian ball

NASA’s rover Perseverance lands on Mars in February 2021.

What is this strange object photographed on Mars? NASA’s Perseverance rover spotted a ball of entangled wires last week that left experts baffled. “There are a lot of uncertainties”, a NASA spokesperson told AFP. But the most plausible explanation is actually below Earth: according to some hypotheses, it could be a piece of rope connecting the rover to a parachute, which slows its descent during landing. or used to descend in the last meters (a stage known as a “skycrane”).

“Wind Blowing Debris”

Perseverance has already come face-to-face several times with equipment that allowed it to land on Mars. In June, another photo showed what at first glance looked like a piece of aluminum foil, wedged between two red stones. It’s actually a thermal insulation piece from the descent stage (used for the “skycrane”). “These small pieces of debris can be assumed to have been moved by the wind after landing.”, a NASA spokesperson commented. They’re still moving: A few days after the wires were photographed, the rover returned to the same spot, but they were gone.

The images were captured by the rover in the delta of an ancient river that scientists believe flowed into a great lake billions of years ago, and is diligently searching for traces of ancient life. Instead of a lake today: the Jezero Crater, where the rover landed in February 2021. It was in this crater that the parachute itself was photographed in April.

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The small helicopter on board for the trip, called Intelligence, for its part captured even more impressive images in flight: not only the parachute, but also the back shield that contained the latter before its deployment. The shield appears to have been heavily damaged by the impact when it hit the ground after it had accomplished its mission. These images can be understood “Help enable safe landings in the future”NASA commented at the time.