Megan Marples, CNN
About four months ago, the Perseverance rover befriended a pet rock, and they’ve been inseparable ever since.
According to the left Perseverance Hazard Prevention Camera, in early February, while traveling on the red planet, a rock hit the rover’s left front wheel.
In four months, the stone covered more than 8.5 kilometers over rough terrain. He joined the mission during a campaign to explore Jezero Crater, the site of an ancient lake and river delta, in which NASA scientists examined rocks from a formation the team is calling “Maaz.”
The rock accompanied the Perseverance north to the Octavia E. Butler landing site before turning west to the remnants of a delta scientists call the Kodiak, and then to the western Jezero Delta.
Currently, the rover is engaged in core drilling and research of sedimentary rocks in the delta region. According to NASA, these rocks formed billions of years ago when there was water in the area.
Tumbling in the rover’s wheel, Perseverance’s favorite rock doesn’t get in the way of operations, and it remains to be seen how long the explorer’s new friend will stick around.
If the home rock falls out and says goodbye to the rover, it will be far from home, surrounded by strange, unfamiliar rocks.
Favorite stones Spirit and Curiosity
Perseverance is not the first rover to host a pet rock.
The Spirit rover, which operated from 2004 to 2010, had a potato-sized rock stuck in its right rear wheel early in its journey. The stone stuck the wheel, so NASA scientists had to knock it out.
The Curiosity rover is no stranger to hitchhiking rocks, and a few rocks in its front right wheel have been ridden for weeks. The rover began traveling around the red planet in mid-2012 and is still operating.
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