NASA's Mars Rover Cooks Up Bizarre Photo Of Martian Spaghetti On Red Planet

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An image resembling a bit of leftover space spaghetti won the people's vote for Perseverance's "Image of the Week". The photo raises questions about how missions to the Red Planet could present issues in the future.

NASA's Perseverance rover has captured quite a few interesting images during its mission on the Red Planet. People have spotted what appeared to be a small doorway, to a mysterious figure laying on the surface of the planet. On July 12, 2022, Perseverance captured an image of what some are saying resembles a bit of leftover spaghetti, or possibly a small Martian tumbleweed.

The image was captured by the rover's Front Left Hazard Avoidance Camera A. The HazCams are designed to detect hazards to the front and back pathways of the rover, such as trenches, large rocks, or sand dunes. Engineers also utilize the front HazCams to view where to move the robotic arm in order to take measurements, photos, and collect rock and soil samples.

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Image Credit: NASA

The object in the photograph is probably not a leftover Martian delicacy (tasty as that might be), but it is most likely debris from the Perseverance mission. In an email statement to Gizmodo, a NASA spokesperson said the object must be some sort of debris, but it is not clear what it is just yet.

Back in June, Perseverance came across a piece of debris wedged between a rock formation. The space agency said the object was a piece of the rover's thermal blanket from when it landed on the Red Planet in February 2021.

Photos such as this raises questions of how much missions like Perseverance could possibly affect the planet long term. With future missions planned utilizing more spacecraft, including eventual manned missions, debris could present unique dilemmas for the martian surface. NASA and other space agencies take a great deal of caution by decontaminating spacecraft before sending them into space, but it is nearly impossible to avoid sending some sort of Earthly microbes at some point.

Also, humans do not have a great track record in keeping our own planet clean. While the debris on Mars is limited at this point, it would seem that it would not take long for it to present an issue at some point in the future. Spacecraft like Perseverance are incapable of picking up after itself, so developing future spacecraft with the ability to clean up its own messes could be well worth the effort.

Top Image Credit: NASA