roaming Mars It’s a lonely existence for NASA’s tenacity, but the expedition vehicle now has a traveling companion: a “pet rock” that gets stuck in one of its wheels.
Fortunately, the Mars stone won’t affect the rover’s science mission and is just a minor inconvenience – like a pebble stuck in your shoe.
The left front perseverance wheel accidentally picked up the pet rock on February 4, or SOL 341 — SOL 341 of the Martian year, according to a statement from NASA.
The Rock periodically took pictures from the rover’s left front hazard avoidance camera (Hazcam).
Recent images show that the rock is still deteriorating with perseverance 126 days (123 Mars) after it made its first flight. (A Sol day, or Sol day, is only 37 minutes longer than Earth’s day.)
The Rock has been navigating with perseverance for just over a quarter of the rover’s mission to the Red Planet. When the rock first made a home for itself in the Wheel of Perseverance, the rover was exploring the Almaz Formation — a part of Jezero crater that researchers believe is made of ancient lava flows.
Since then, the rover has traveled 5.3 miles (8.5 kilometers) through the Octavia E. Butler landing site, the Perseverance first landing on Mars in February 2021, and bypassing the remains of the Kodiak Delta, which once connected an ancient river and lake. .
The rover will soon prepare to ascend one of the steep cliffs of Jezero crater, whose rocky distance it may surreptitiously slip.
When the pet rock eventually falls off the rover wheel, it will likely be surrounded by very different rocks than it is because it is likely to be of volcanic origin.
“We might confuse a future Martian geologist who finds this out of place,” one of the mission scientists joked at a recent meeting. According to the statement.
Perseverance, or Percy, picked up several other small boulders in her right front wheel during her mission, but these all fell off within a few days or weeks.
This makes the newest record-breaking cobbled rider to hike on Mars, According to the statement.
But Percy isn’t the only rover on Mars to have picked up an Elif rock.
In December 2004, operators of NASA’s Spirit rover — which roamed Mars between January 2004 and March 2010 — had to perform a sharp maneuver to get a “potato-sized” rock out of its right rear wheel because scientists feared it would cause too much significance. damage, according to NASA.
Previously, picking up unwanted rocks in other parts of the rover was a much more serious problem for tenacity.
On December 29, a group of small pebbles fell into part of the rover’s mechanism, injuring Percy It shuts itself down for about a week. Expedition scientists eventually came up with a way to remove the gravel after forcing the rover to detach the drilling arm to properly image the affected area.
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