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NASA’s Perseverance rover is yet to find the signs of ancient microbial life that it is searching for on Mars, but it did spot a piece of its own landing gear on the red planet this week.
“It’s a piece of a thermal blanket that they think may have come from my descent stage, the rocket-powered jetpack that set me down on landing day back in 2021,” the team back on Earth tweeted Wednesday.
The rover originally landed about 1.2 miles away from where the shiny piece of thermal blanket was spotted this week.
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The Ingenuity helicopter that accompanied Perseverance to Mars spotted the crashed backshell and parachute last month from when the spacecraft landed in February 2021.
Social media ignited last month when Perseverance captured an image of a “doorway” cut into rock, but NASA later explained that it’s just a naturally occurring crevice in the terrain.
Perseverance has been exploring the Jezero Crater, an area that NASA believes was once home to an ancient river delta.
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The rover is equipped with a 7-foot-long robotic arm that allows it to take samples from Mars’ surface.
A device onboard the rover called the SHERLOC uses cameras, spectrometers, and a laser to analyze samples, but NASA hopes to one day bring the samples back to Earth for more in-depth study.