NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) says a viral image of a clump of stringy material photographed on the surface of Mars is likely a Dacron net.
The material is also used in thermal blankets, according to an agency blog post.
However, before the warp could be imaged by the higher resolution Mastcam-Z cameras, it was blown away.
“Hardware teams suspect this is another piece of Dacron netting, based on the observed 2×2 mm2 grid mesh pattern,” said Justin Maki, JPL Imaging Scientist and Principal Investigator. assistant of Mastcam-Z. “They noted that this particular piece of netting appears to have suffered significant fraying/shredding, suggesting that it was subjected to strong forces.”
Additional images of debris from NASA’s Perseverance rover entry, descent and landing (EDL) system in the Hogwallow Flatts area have been shared, including a piece of multi-layered insulation that likely came from the crane Aerial.
The skycrane crash site is located two kilometers (1.2 miles) to the southeast.
Maki said it looks like the material was blown over by the wind over the course of several days or weeks.
“The dot pattern on the material matched the pattern of the thermal blankets installed on the spacecraft. The covers were made in one of two varieties: Perforated aluminized Kapton or Mylar – the shiny material was probably one of these two materials. Later footage of the blanket showed it hanging from a rock and could be seen flapping in the breeze,” he explained.
Other Dacron nets were photographed in June.
As of July 24, the NASA operations team had cataloged about half a dozen suspected EDL debris in the area.
Maki noted that the first EDL debris was spotted at Hogwallow Flats on April 16. JPL said it appears to be a “natural collection point for windblown EDL debris”.
While members of the Mars Perseverance rover team are checking whether the material could be a potential source of contamination for its sample tubes, no immediate issues have been identified so far.