Hitchhiking boulder traveled with the Perseverance Rover for over 120 days

Roaming Mars has been a lonely existence for NASA’s Perseverance, however the exploratory rover now has a touring companion: a hitchhiking “pet rock” that received caught in one in every of its wheels.

Fortunately, the Martian Stone will not impression the rover’s science mission and is just a minor inconvenience, like getting a pebble caught in your shoe.

Perseverance’s left entrance wheel unintentionally picked up the companion stone on Feb. 4, or Sol 341 — the 341st Martian day of the Martian yr, in line with a NASA assertion.

The rock periodically has photobombed photographs taken by the rover’s left entrance hazard avoidance digicam (Hazcam).

Current footage exhibits the boulder persevering with to break down with Perseverance 126 days (123 sols) after hitchhiking for the primary time. (A sol, or Martian day, is just 37 minutes longer than an Earth day.)

The Rock hitchhiked with Perseverance for simply over 1 / 4 of the rover’s mission to the Pink Planet. When the boulder first settled into the Wheel of Perseverance, the rover was exploring the Máaz Formation, a bit of Jezero Crater that researchers suspect to be made up of historical lava flows.

The rock on April 19, close to the remnant of the Kodiak Delta. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Since then, the rover has traveled 8.5 kilometers via the Octavia E. Butler touchdown web site, the place Perseverance first landed on Mars in February 2021, and previous the remnants of the Kodiak Delta, which related as soon as an historical river and lake. .

The rover will quickly put together for an ascent of one in every of Jezero Crater’s steep slopes, which can dislodge its stony stowaway.

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When the companion stone lastly falls from the rover’s wheel, it would seemingly be surrounded by rocks very completely different from itself as it’s seemingly volcanic in origin.

“We would confuse a future Mars geologist who finds it misplaced,” a mission scientist joked at a current assembly, in line with the assertion.

Perseverance, or Percy, picked up a number of different small rocks in his proper entrance wheel throughout his mission, however these all fell out inside just a few days or perhaps weeks.

This makes the latest stony passenger a Martian hitchhiking document, in line with the assertion.

However Percy is not the one Mars rover to choose up a pet stone.

In December 2004, operators of NASA’s Spirit rover – which roamed Mars between January 2004 and March 2010 – needed to carry out a pointy flip maneuver to shake a “potato-sized” rock from its wheel rear proper as a result of scientists feared it might trigger vital harm. harm, in line with NASA.

Beforehand, choosing up undesirable rocks in different components of the rover was a a lot greater drawback for Perseverance.

On December 29, a pile of small rocks fell into a part of the rover’s equipment, inflicting Percy to close down for almost per week. Mission scientists ultimately discovered a solution to take away the pebbles after forcing the rover to detach its drill arm to correctly {photograph} the affected space.

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This text was initially printed by Dwell Science. Learn the unique article right here.

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