What is that this bizarre balancing rock on Mars?

This image was taken by Perseverance on Sol 466, which is June 12, 2022 according to the Earth calendar.

This picture was taken by Perseverance on Sol 466, which is June 12, 2022 based on the Earth calendar.
Picture: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU

My colleague seen one thing odd within the newest batch of images from NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover: a rounded boulder seems to be fastidiously balanced atop a jagged outcrop. How did it get there?

The photograph was taken within the Jezero crater of Mars by Perseverance’s proper Mastcam Z on Sol 466, which corresponds to June 12 right here on Earth.

I emailed NASA asking what the rock could possibly be and if there was something actually unusual right here. James Rice, a geologist with the Mastcam-Z staff at Arizona State College’s Faculty of Earth and House Exploration, replied:

Stability rocks (generally known as Precariously Balanced Rock PBRs) of assorted sizes, starting from small rock sizes (inches) to formations a whole lot of ft excessive, happen naturally and should not actually uncommon. Typically a balancing rock is definitely linked to the bigger underlying rock by a rod or pedestal. The Martian stability rock pictured is on the Rockytop outcrop close to the bottom of the delta and was most definitely fashioned after vital wind (wind) and/or chemical erosion pulled it out of the native bedrock.

These kind of options are extra than simply geological curiosities; in truth, they’ve been known as “inverse seismometers” as a result of the existence of PBRs makes it doable to measure earthquakes/mars that didn’t happen. If these rocks are nonetheless balanced, the bottom hasn’t moved sufficient to knock them over. We will subsequently use these traits to be taught extra in regards to the seismic historical past of a area.

Ah sure, a basic PBR. Glad that is cleared up!

Image for article titled What is this weird balancing rock on Mars?

Picture: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU

Across the similar time as this picture, the Perseverance rover bought a photograph of a shiny piece of fabric nestled in some rocks, which NASA thinks could possibly be a chunk of the rover’s thermal blanket since touchdown in 2021. NASA tweeted that the rover landed 2 kilometers (1.25 miles) from the place the remainder of the quilt was discovered, however notes that it might have been blown round or landed there by itself.

The Perseverance rover has spotted what may be a piece of the thermal blanket used when the probe landed on Mars in 2021.

The Perseverance rover has noticed what could also be a chunk of the thermal blanket used when the probe landed on Mars in 2021.
Picture: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU

Now we have unusual photos of Mars all the way in which, and we noticed rocks that appear like squirrels, spoons, doorways, and extra. Our eyes play tips on us, and that is very true when an alien panorama crammed with acquainted and unfamiliar sights. We see two-dimensional representations of a three-dimensional world, so these optical illusions are inevitable.

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