Perseverance rover captured a Mars image on Feb. 16 that might look alarming if you don't know the context. It shows a pretty typical stretch of dusty and rocky Martian landscape, but there's something out of place. Something definitely made by humans. Don't worry. It's supposed to be there.
The cylindrical object is an abrading bit the rover ditched in July of last year. "This particular drill bit was installed before launch, to close out the drill and keep the inside protected," the Perseverance team tweeted at the time. "To keep my science clean and clear, I'm leaving it aside before I start to collect samples with new, pristine drill bits."
UFO hoax-buster UFO of Interest highlighted the recent rover picture earlier this week and tracked down the story behind the object.
The bit has fallen over on its side since Percy originally photographed it. You can also see some of the rover's wheel tracks in the view.
This isn't the rover's only piece of litter on Mars. In March 2021, the rover popped off an ejectable belly pan that was used to protect its sampling system during landing.
These items could one day be objects of interest for space archeologists. Of course, the rovers themselves will stick around on Mars long after their missions are over and the little pieces they leave along the wayside will be historical markers of their movement across the red planet.