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A strange and mysterious object captured on camera by a NASA vehicle on Mars has left a group of space-enthusiasts astonished and confused about its origins.
The object appears to be in a man-made, cylindrical shape that could otherwise not have been produced by natural causes.
NASA's perseverance rover launched on 30 July 2020 and has been seeking signs of ancient life since landing on the Jezero Crater on 18 February 2021.
One freaked-out Twitter user suggested the object could be an artefact left behind by an unknown ancient civilisation.
The user also questioned whether a UFO once crashed on the planet and left the cylindrical part of its fuselage behind.
But the truth is perhaps not so surprising after all.
The unusual object actually belongs to the same organisation as the rover that pictured it: NASA.
It's now clear the piece of 'alien fuselage' is, in fact, a 'launch abrasion bit' and a Reddit user stepped in to explain.
They explained: "It was left on the ground earlier in the mission after it was used to test the abrasion process at that location.
"The launch abrasion bit was mounted in the drill pre-launch and possibly subjected to some atmospheric contamination while waiting for launch or during launch.
"It was purely to fill/seal the chuck in the drill and to test the drill after landing, once that was done it was discarded on the ground (months ago.)"
Many joined the conversation online to criticise the space agency for 'space-littering'.
The red planet is already on its way to becoming a 'robot graveyard' because of all the bits-and-bobs different space missions leave, and will leave, over the years.
One person commented: "I mean it's not like any of the probes and rover we sent were ever brought back."
Another person wrote: "Haven't even stepped foot on the planet yet and we're already littering."
It's unlikely the rover, called Percy, lets such comments affect his work and posts updates on his blog from Mars when he has a moment.
In his most recent update, a University of Florida student explained the tasks Percy completes during a normal day - or 'Sol' in Mars language.
Percy wakes up: 2:07am local time most Sols to conduct a data management activity for an onboard instrument called MEDA (Mars Environmental Dynamics Analyzer), which uses a suite of sensors to monitor weather throughout the Sol.
The rover will then conduct a series of tasks throughout each Sol, including observing rock targets to gather information about the minerals they contain, daily engineering activities and taking atmospheric measurements - all while relaying the information back to those on Earth.
Life is tough for the little Martian explorer.
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