Perseverance loses an old friend forever

The Perseverance rover has ended an important era – it has lost an old friend. For 427 Martian days, the rover carried a rock in one of its wheels. A piece of rock got stuck in the wheel of the rover and traveled for more than a year when the robot moved through the hills and sands of the landscape of the Red Planet. The rock fell out by accident when it was noticed in the last Hazcam image that it was missing from the Perseverance wheel.

On board Perseverance, a rock in a wheel traveled all year round. Photo: NASA

“Rock spent 427 sols with us. It’s longer than an Earth year. During this time, it traveled about 10 km. Farewell Rock Friend, you will be missed!”, — wrote Dr. Gwénaël Caravaca on Twitter.

How the rock got into Perseverance

The rock was first seen in early February 2022. It somehow got stuck in the left front wheel of the rover for a long time. NASA stated that the rock did not cause any damage to Perseverance. Although during the movement, a grinding noise was heard from the friction of the rock inside the wheel. 

NASA engineers said that rocks could sometimes get caught in the wheels when the rovers crossed the slopes. They can also get there when the rover is moving through loose terrain and the weight of the rover breaks the rocks into pieces.

As you know, Mars is a rocky place, as evidenced by the battered wheels of the Curiosity rover – the twin brother of Perseverance. NASA has redesigned the aluminum wheels so that they can withstand a journey through an inhospitable landscape.

Earlier we reported how an Australian tried to spray a meteorite for several years.

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