NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover has been carrying around a ‘pet rock’ for the past four months. How was this discovered? Way back on sol 341, or 100 sols ago in early February, a rock made its way into the rover’s front left wheel, and has been riding around since on a 5.3-mile journey. Fortunately, the rock hasn’t caused any damage to the wheel, but it’s been spotted several times in images captured by the left Hazcam.
The journey began on NASA’s Crater Floor Campaign, where the rover inspected rocks from the “Máaz” formation, which researchers believe is made up of lava flows. It then traveled back north through the Octavia E. Butler landing site before heading west and passing the spectacular remains of the former extent of the delta, “Kodiak”. Now, it’s partaking in the Delta Front Campaign. Let’s hope Perseverance eventually makes its way to the door-like formation on Mars sooner than later.
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Where might this pet rock end its journey? It’s possible that the rock may fall out at some point along our future ascent of the crater rim. If it does so, it will land amongst rocks that we expect to be very different from itself. As one of our team members quipped this week, ‘we might confuse a future Mars geologist who finds it out of place!’,” said Eleni Ravanis, Student Collaborator at University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa.