Mars is one of the most analyzed planets by humanity as it shows a lot of promising potential for a second home. The way NASA collects data about Mars and its environment is through high-resolution photographs taken by NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter that landed on Mars in April 2021. The helicopter had taken photos of what could only be described as a UFO crash on its 26th flight.
At first, NASA was not sure what they were looking at, even the New York Times said that the wreckage “looks like a flying saucer that crashed on Mars.” The statement was further supported by astronomer Jonathan McDowell from the Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
The internet went crazy as NASA usually does not promote UFOs or any other findings that are alien-like. When the photos were made public on Twitter, they also came with a statement from NASA explaining that the wreckage was actually from the landing gear of the Perseverance rover that landed on Mars in February 2021.
Technically this is the wreckage of a flying saucer, but not of alien origin. This has been created and developed by NASA to help spacecraft resist the rough descent once they enter Mars’ atmosphere. Within the photo, we can see a part of the landing gear that was expected to be trashed due to the heavy impact upon landing. Taking a closer look, a dusty supersonic parachute is also identified, which is used to drastically lower the speed of descent before impact.
“Perseverance had the best-documented Mars landing in history, with cameras showing everything from parachute inflation to touchdown,” (Quote by Ian Clark)
Despite Perseverance having the best landings in Mars landing history, the photos show that landings can still be quite difficult. Previous landings may have been so rough that little to no wreckage had been left behind or it has already been covered up by sand and dirt.
NASA mentioned that this finding is actually very helpful, as they have never managed to find wreckage from the previous spacecraft that flew to Mars. This will help the space agency to improve the technology used in landing which will hopefully allow for a safer descent in future missions. This was also mentioned by JPL’s Ian Clark who is a former Perseverance systems engineer.
“But Ingenuity’s images offer a different vantage point. If they either reinforce that our systems worked as we think they worked or provide even one dataset of engineering information we can use for Mars Sample Return planning, it will be amazing. And if not, the pictures are still phenomenal and inspiring.” (Quote by Ian Clark)
Another very interesting thing that was discovered at the crash site was a secret message coded on the parachute that said “dare mighty things” the motto used by the Perseverance team. A lot of thought has gone behind Perseverance and the spacecraft that got it to Mars. Members that have worked on this project are happy to see that their landing system worked as intended.