The string-like material that the Perseverance rover photographed on the Martian surface is likely just Dacron netting, according to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).
As per CBS News, the mysterious material turns out to be just trash that the rover discarded itself.
String-Like Material Photographed on Mars is Likely Dacron Netting
In NASA’s blog posted last week, the agency said that hardware as Entry, Descent and Landing (EDL) was discarded onto the Martian surface when the Perseverance landed on the planet in February 2021.
What NASA is seeing now is the debris from imagery in the Hogwallow Flats region of the Red Planet. Scientists believe that the tangled object, along with the other material in the photos, is possibly pieces of shredded Dacron netting.
“The hardware teams suspect that this is another piece of Dacron netting, based on the observed 2×2 mm2 grid mesh pattern,” said Justin Maki, JPL’s imaging scientist and Mastcam-Z deputy principal investigator, as cited by the New York Post.
According to Maki, this particular piece of netting seems to have undergone significant unraveling or shredding. The appearance suggests that it was subjected to strong forces.
NASA shared additional images of EDL system debris, which include a piece of multi-layer insulation. The said material likely comes from the skycrane.
While the skycrane crash site is two kilometers (1.2 miles) to the southeast, it is likely that the material was blown by the wind in the last several days or weeks, according to Maki.
He explained that the dot pattern on the material is similar to the pattern of the thermal blankets installed onto the spacecraft, which were made in one of two varieties, Perforated Aluminized Kapton and Mylar.
There were subsequent images of the blanket seen and based on the images, it appears that it was snagged on a rock and could be seen “flapping in the breeze.”
Perseverance Team Members Review Images of the Debris
In June, more Dacron netting material was photographed by the Perseverance rover. The NASA operations team has recorded around half a dozen pieces of suspected EDL debris as of July 24.
According to Maki, the first EDL debris was observed in Hogwallow Flats on April 16. The area appears to be a “natural collecting point for windblown EDL debris,” as per JPL.
NASA blog explains that Dacron is considered as polyester fiber, which is known for its durability, consistency and quality.
But as noted by CBS News, the particular piece of netting photographed by the rover appears to have undergone significant unraveling and shredding.
Maki noted that the Perseverance team members are reviewing images of the debris. The team is trying to identify if the material may pose as a potential contamination source for the sample tubes.
According to CBS News, the NASA blog noted that engineers are also considering the chances that EDL debris might be a source of entanglement risk to the rover.
Maki said that the Perseverance imaging teams will keep on reviewing images of the terrain for possible sources of EDL debris.