New NASA Photos Show Human Garbage Littering Mars

Since landing last year, the Perseverance rover has been scouring the dry and stony environment of Mars' Jezero Crater for evidence of life. However, the rover has recently discovered human waste on Mars' surface.

The Perseverance team announced on Twitter on Tuesday that they'd found what seemed to be a portion of the thermal blanket that protected the rover from the severe temperatures it encountered during landing.

"It's a surprise finding this here" the researchers stated, noting that the robot's drop took place roughly 2 kilometers distance, or slightly over a mile. "Did this piece land here after that, or was it blown here by the wind?"

The rover isn't the only one who has littered on Mars. The Ingenuity chopper got a bird's-eye picture of human-made space trash in April, including the landing gear that assisted it and the Perseverance rover in reaching Mars.

"Perseverance had the best-documented Mars landing in history, with cameras showing everything from parachute inflation to touchdown," Ian Clark, a former Perseverance systems engineer who now oversees the project to carry Martian samples back to Earth at JPL in Southern California, said in a statement.

He continued: "If they either reinforce that our systems worked as we think they worked or provide even one dataset of engineering information we can use for Mars Sample Return planning, it will be amazing. And if not, the pictures are still phenomenal and inspiring."

The major goal of Perseverance is to look for indications of ancient microbial life near its landing location, Jezero Crater, which is a historic river delta.

To boldly pollute

For space organizations, space debris is becoming an increasing problem.

Fragments of space missions, such as the boots, shovels, and complete vehicles left on the Moon by the Apollo missions, can contaminate otherwise pure planetary bodies.

Leaving Earth for space exploration is getting increasingly perilous as Earth's orbit becomes increasingly congested with satellites and space trash. Furthermore, the International Space Station is vulnerable to space trash, which includes defunct satellites, burned-up launchers, screwdrivers, parachutes, and other remnants.

Nonetheless, there are few rules in place to safeguard space from contamination. The Outer Space Treaty, which was hashed out in 1967 and isn't too precise, has had little impact on current space law. The treaty's flaws are still visible more than half a century later, as celestial planets like Mars devolve into junkyards.

Last month, Aparna Venkatesan, an astronomy professor at the University of San Francisco, told an audience at an American Natural History Museum event that protecting the space environment would need recognizing it as a shared legacy of human civilization.

"Do we view space as our shared ancestry?" she wondered. "Whose heritage is it and how do you honor it?"