A rock accidentally struck the chassis of the NASA Perseverance rover. A large pebble stuck inside one of the aluminum wheels of the machine.The stone was shooted by the front left camera Hazcam. It is used to prevent the danger of Perseverance. The picture shows the “intruder” inside the wheel.
The rover probably “picked up” the stone during the exploration of the Jezero crater, where it has been working since landing on Mars in February 2021. The first photo was taken on February 25, 2022. In two weeks, the second photo showed that the stone is still in the wheel of the Mars rover worth USD 2.2 billion. It is not known when this pebble got into the wheel. The investigation by CNet reporter Amanda Kruser suggests that this happened at least since February 6, 2021.
It seems that the stone in the wheel does not interfere with the movement of the rover, but rather is a cosmetic inconvenience. NASA confirmed that it does not pose a danger to the rover.
“The stone does not bear risks. It does not interfere with movement, except that it makes the rover a little noisy. Such stones sometimes get into the wheels of Curiosity. They get in while moving across the slope and usually fall out on their own after a while,” — a representative of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory explained to Gizmodo.
Perseverance wheels with a width of 52.2 cm are able to withstand such unexpected “guests”. The rover was equipped with upgraded wheels to prevent the wear observed on Curiosity. Each aluminum wheel is equipped with 48 spikes, which improves grip, and curved titanium spokes that provide elastic support.
Perseverance is now returning to its Octavia Butler landing site. This will be the largest distance traveled during the entire mission. Then the rover will travel to the Jezero delta, where it will use its Mastcam-Z and SuperCam tools to explore its structure and mineralogy.