NASA’s Perseverance Rover Had A Rock Stuck In Its Wheels For Months

Source: Nasa
Source: Nasa

NASA’s Perseverance rover was driving alone on Mars when it picked up a “pet rock” that got lodged in one of its wheels and decided to tag along. Aside from a small annoyance, the Martian stone will have no effect on the rover’s science mission.

During the Martian year 341st Martian day, the pet rock was picked up by Perseverance’s front-left wheel, according to a NASA announcement. In photographs obtained by the rover’s front-left Hazard Avoidance Camera, the rock has photobombed on occasion. 126 days after it originally caught a ride, new photos show the rock still hurtling together with Perseverance.

Just over a quarter of Perseverance’s operation on Mars has been spent traveling with the stone. Perseverance was investigating the Máaz formation, a region of the Jezero crater that scientists suggest was formed by prehistoric lava flows when the rock first found a home in its wheel. When Perseverance first set foot on Mars in February 2021, the rover made its way through the Octavia E. Butler landing site and the remnants of the Kodiak delta. Soon, the rover will be preparing to ascend a steep slope in the Jezero crater, which could cause its stoney stowaway to fall to the ground.

Credit: NASA

Small rocks that Perseverance, also known as Percy, was able to collect while on a mission have slipped out within a couple of days or weeks of the mission’s ends. Per the statement, the latest pebbly hitchhiker is now a Martian hitchhiker record-breaker.

It’s not just Percy who’s found a pet rock on Mars. NASA’s Spirit rover had to undertake a rapid spin maneuver in December 2004 in order to shake off a potato-sized boulder from its right-rear wheel as researchers worried it might cause substantial damage, NASA reported.

Susan Kowal
Susan Kowal is a serial entrepreneur, angel investor/advisor, and health enthusiast.