People were amused, then fascinated, by a strange snapshot obtained by NASA’s Perseverance rover. A white and gold (or is it black and blue?) cylinder appear behind the rover in the photograph. Redditors speculated that the rover had dropped something by accident. Others speculated on the internet that it may have been aliens or space debris. First and foremost, that is a rover component — an abrasion bit for its drill, to be exact. It was installed aboard the Perseverance rover prior to launch and was always intended to be abandoned after a test since it may have been contaminated by the atmosphere on Earth.
It was utilized in rock before being abandoned in July. On the rover’s page, there’s a useful Twitter thread that explains why it did so. Back in July, the drill was caught in the rock, as you can see in the photograph. However, it is plainly on its side in the shot from a few weeks ago. So, what went wrong? Given the fragile nature of Mars’ atmosphere, it was most likely not the wind.
Mars Guy on YouTube, who is a fan of the rover, has a better explanation: It was trampled by perseverance. And it did it all by itself, with no help from humans. The rover is presently retracing its tracks at Jezero Crater, the famed delta where a river once flowed into a lake, in order to reach a new position. The autonomous self-driving software, which smashed many daily distance records, was responsible for a large portion of this journey. The program can avoid hitting stones and boulders, but it’s likely it hit the drill bit again when it traveled through the same area.
So, not only did the rover “litter” Mars-like an out-of-control adolescent, but it also kicked it as it went by it again. It had been used to test the abrasion process at that site earlier in the mission and had been left on the ground. During drive 352, the rover went by the bit and may have knocked it over as it retraced its steps back to the landing site and onto the Delta. So it appears the crew decided to photograph it prior to the drive on sol 353. In the post-drive NavCams I released from sol 352, you can just make it out (just to the left of the can-shaped radio antenna)