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NASA Sees ‘Otherworldly’ Wreckage on Mars With Ingenuity Helicopter

The object resembles a flying saucer that crashed on Mars.

And indeed it is.

But it doesn’t belong to aliens.

Instead, the wreckage is the work of NASA, a component called a backshell that detached during the landing of the Perseverance rover on the surface of the red planet in February 2021.

During its 26th flight last week, Ingenuity took 10 pictures during its 159 seconds in the air covering 1,181 feet. Those show that backshell, or the top half of the landing capsule that protected Perseverance and Ingenuity as they plunged through the Martian atmosphere. Still attached is the 70-foot-wide parachute that slowed the vehicles’ descent.

Studying the remains of the backshell could prove helpful for NASA’s next big Mars adventure — bringing back rocks and soil from Mars to Earth for more detailed study. That mission, called Mars Sample Return, will need to put two landers on the surface — a rover to collect rock samples being drilled by Perseverance, and a small rocket to launch the samples into orbit for another spacecraft to pick up to bring back to Earth.

Read more at The New York Times

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