The exploration of Mars is fully underway and with new images sent back almost daily of what’s happening over there on the Red Planet, scientists (and just enthusiasts) are constantly on the lookout for signs of life. Will we get actual Martians (no probably not) or other signs of smaller life that the planet could sustain? It’s a fascinating new frontier, one that will stay that way for decades to come as we get closer and closer to humans actually stepping foot on its surface. And of course, one other thing folks might be looking for is whether or not other non-Martians and non-Earthlings might have been there at some point. Well, recently images were sent back from Mars that showed some pretty fascinating wreckage strewn across the planet.
The photos came from the Ingenuity helicopter (via CNN and Twitter) which has been tasked with flying above the surface of Mars and shooting different aspects of the landscape. One of the photos it took was of the debris field from when the Perseverance rover first landed there in February of last year. The pics are of the parachute and other equipment that was instrumental in helping that rover land safely on the planet more than a year ago. The photo has an eery quality that definitely gives it the feel of an alien crash-landing on the planet, and the resolution of the picture does give the sense that it happened quite a while ago. Check out the wreckage and debris on Mars.
It’s not lost on me that with this photo we have some of the first documented proof that humans have already started leaving our trash on a new planet. That didn’t take long. And while I understand that this is the nature of an exploratory mission to Mars, it is funny how this look at the debris is celebrated in that the equipment accomplished its main task: get the rover there. But it also points to us just plopping down for a look around and leaving our junk behind in the process. Maybe there is a plan to pick it up in the future (I’m sure there is) but we are already giving a live look into the humanizing and “colonization” of a new planet.
Regardless, with the Mars exploration fully underway, the Perseverance rover is looking for and collecting rock samples around the planet, seeking signs of microbial life. The tentative plan is to get those samples back to Earth by 2030 so they can be studied in more detail. The debris from the wreckage that Ingenuity shot comes from the February 21, 2021 landing of the two coupled pieces of technology, a time period that had folks at NASA more than a little nervous. There was no way to track in real-time whether the landing had been successful. Clearly looking at the debris it would have appeared that there was a massive mistake. But that wasn’t the case and we are learning more about Mars every day. Now we are just waiting to hear what the cleanup plan is going to look like.