"It's a surprise finding this here" since the robot's descent happened about 2 km — just over a mile away, the team wrote. "Did this piece land here after that, or was it blown here by the wind?"
This isn't the rover's only piece of litter on Mars. In April, the Ingenuity helicopter captured a bird's-eye view of human-made space junk — the landing gear that helped it, and the Perseverance rover, get to Mars.
Space junk is a growing concern for space agencies. Fragments of missions left behind in space — like the boots, shovels, and entire vehicles the Apollo missions left on the Moon — can contaminate otherwise pristine planetary bodies.