Last week, the mobile Mars Science Laboratory known—perhaps in a manner that tempts terrible fate—as Curiosity beheld a strange object: a piece of garbage that, though it seemed metallic at first glance, turned out to be a piece of plastic. In fact, as diligent NASA scientists eventually figured out, the scrap came from Curiosity itself. WHATEVER HAPPENED TO LEAVE NO TRACE, YOU GUYS?
Here’s the sequence of events, according to ExtremeTech:
[T]he object was in fact a half-inch piece of plastic and most likely a bit of debris from Curiosity’s EDL (entry, descent, landing) on Mars. The plastic most likely fell off the sky crane and onto the top of Curiosity during landing, and then later fell to the floor.
One Internet commenter asks: “… so Mars has a floor now?” Yes, and it’s being inundated with all kinds of space trash, which I’m betting is not altogether biodegradable. For shame! Later, when Curiosity is out of juice and left to gather dust, some alien will probably see it cluttering an otherwise beautiful plain and then shed a single, dramatic tear.
Even worse, Curiosity next moved on to assessing some mysterious bright mineral particles, which will likely turn out to be priceless and have us humans striking out to the red planet in a gold-rush scenario, wiping out native Martians in the process. Good old history: you can always count on it coming full circle.
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