spaceSpace and PhysicsspaceAstronomy

Perseverance Found A Bit Of Sky Crane That Looks Like A Martian Snakeskin

Rover trash, Martian snake, or the shed skin of a Xenomorph?


Katy Evans

Katy is Managing Editor at IFLScience where she oversees editorial content from News articles to Features, and even occasionally writes some.

Managing Editor

Mars snake skin
Snakes from a crane! Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/Kevin M. Gill/Flickr

Perseverance has done many things no rover has done before, including some super cool science and (accidentally) the first known off-word hit and run. Another curious occurrence is finding bits of its own delivery system scattered across the Martian surface – and they do seem to come in some very strange forms.

Just a couple of weeks ago, the rover came across what appeared to be some reflective shiny metal on Mars. It turned out to be part of its thermal blanket from its descent stage when it was delivered to the surface of Mars back in February 2021. Strangely, it was discovered over 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) from where Percy landed.


Now, the intrepid six-wheeled explorer has come across another piece of debris, most likely from its sky crane. If we didn’t know better, this piece looks horribly like a Martian snake just shed its skin.

First highlighted by Kevin M. Gill, engineer and Martian photographer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (home of the Mars missions) many have speculated about what this scrap of material may be.

The image was taken by Perseverance's right MastCam-Z on June 23 – or sol 477 of the mission (sols are Martian days and last for 24 hours and 39 minutes). The debris is thought to be around 8 centimeters (3.1 inches) and is most likely a part of the sky crane that lowered the rover to Mars.  

So not a space snake after all. However, it's not the only object in the photo people seem concerned about...


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