NASA cameras spot ‘alien’ wreckage on Mars — but it’s not what you think

NASA cameras spot alien wreckage on Mars — but its

It was a U-F-faux.

NASA’s Ingenuity Mars helicopter has gone viral after snapping photos on the Red Planet of what looked like a flying saucer — but was actually landing gear from last year’s mission to Mars.

The interplanetary photo op was conducted earlier this month by the ‘copter, NASA reported. It had been dispatched by the space agency to survey debris from the Perseverance rover’s historic landing on Feb. 18, 2021.

The 10 pics show a UFO-esque conical “backshell” that protected the rover in deep space and during its fiery descent toward the Martian surface. Also visible is the resultant debris field and the aeroshell’s 70.5-foot-wide parachute — the biggest ever deployed on Mars.

“It exudes otherworldly, doesn’t it?” Dr. Ian Clark from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, told the New York Times of the Martian-evoking discovery.

NASA noted that both pieces of equipment were intact, which was remarkable given the “fast-paced and stressful” nature of “entry, descent, and landing on Mars,” according to the space agency’s report, which added that landing vehicles must endure “the gravitational forces, high temperatures, and other extremes that come with entering Mars’ atmosphere at nearly 12,500 miles per hour.”

However, “several weeks of analysis” are still needed before the team can reach a conclusive verdict on the wreckage.

The reconnaissance mission also proved difficult for Ingenuity, which had to conduct multiple trips and execute several tricky maneuvers.

“To get the shots we needed, Ingenuity did a lot of maneuvering, but we were confident because there was complicated maneuvering on flights 10, 12 and 13,” said Håvard Grip, chief pilot of Ingenuity. “Our landing spot set us up nicely to image an area of interest for the Perseverance science team on Flight 2, near ‘Séítah’ ridge.”

However, these images weren’t the first snapped of the rover’s equipment.

“Perseverance had the best-documented Mars landing in history, with cameras showing everything from parachute inflation to touchdown,” noted Clark. They’d also recorded images of debris from the parachute and the backshell earlier, the Independent reported.

However, Ingenuity’s snaps do offer a “different vantage point,” which the team hopes can help ensure safer landings for future spacecraft.

“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 [an upcoming campaign to analyze Mars surface samples], it will be amazing,” said Clark, a former Perseverance engineer. “And if not, the pictures are still phenomenal and inspiring.”

Of course, some people weren’t “inspired” by the images and suggested that humans were now depositing our “trash” on other planets.

“Bad enough we destroy our own planet, who is the volunteer highway patrol that’s going to go clean up Mars now?” wrote one critic on social media, while another offered, “Do not forget: It is as important to explore as it is to leave things clean. Let’s not make #Mars a second litter-filled Earth.”

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