During its research mission, the NASA Perseverance rover picked up an unexpected companion — a small stone. It accidentally got stuck in the front left wheel four months ago, and has been there ever since, stubbornly refusing to leave the cozy place. The curious thing is that during this time the stone has covered a distance of 8.5 km. NASA assures that this does not prevent Perseverance from moving. Only from time to time a stone appears in the photos taken by the Hazcam camera.
According to the Perseverance mission team from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), this is not the first time a Martian rock has ended up in the rover’s wheel. About 18 years ago, a similar stone the size of a potato landed in the rear right wheel of the Spirit rover, and it had to be urgently removed. It is known that, in addition to Spirit, the Curiosity rover occasionally picks up a couple of companions in its wheels, but after a few weeks they fall out on their own.
The case with Perseverance is a record — no other stone has traveled so long “hitchhiking” on Mars in the wheels of rovers. Interestingly, the “stowaway” will probably continue to set its record, since it can stay on the wheel for quite a long period of time.
“Perhaps at some point during the future ascent along the edge of the crater, the stone may still fall out. If this happens, it will be among the stones against which it will stand out strongly,” Perseverance engineers wrote in their blog.
More recently, NASA reported that the rover has reached the place where there is the highest chance of finding signs of life on Mars. All Martian samples collected by Perseverance will be sent to Earth in the 2030s as part of a campaign to return samples from the Red Planet.
Recall that earlier Perseverance was preparing for a record race.
According to Republic World
Follow us on Twitter to get the most interesting space news in time