Perseverance has been on Mars for greater than a 12 months, beaming again footage from the Purple Planet all of the whereas. We’ve seen Jezero Crater itself, together with hundreds of pictures of the Martian panorama and sky. Perseverance additionally takes periodic selfies, to examine its situation and calibrate its sensors. Nevertheless it’s lonely on the market on the Purple Planet. So, a number of months in the past, the rover picked up a companion. Tucked inside considered one of its wheels, Perseverance has a pet rock.
It’s no AIBO or Ok-9, however certain sufficient, this rock has tumbled alongside at Perseverance’s heel for months. Mission scientists consider that the rock got here from particles the rover kicked up throughout its travels by means of Jezero. In a weblog publish, Perseverance staff member Eleni Ravanis stated the rock might come from lava flows within the “Máaz” formation of Jezero Crater. However that’s not all that makes it particular.
This isn’t the primary time a rock has hitched a trip on a Mars rover mission. Spirit and Curiosity have each had their very own touring companions. However that is the longest we’ve ever seen a rover grasp on to the identical rock. “Whereas it’s unclear precisely how lengthy these rocks caught round, they tended to hop off after a number of weeks,” stated Ravanis. “Perseverance’s present companion is subsequently on its technique to setting Mars hitch-hiking data!”
Perseverance first caught its pet rock on digital camera in February. “It’s not perceived as a danger. We’ve seen these sorts of rocks get ‘caught’ in Curiosity’s wheels on occasion, too,” a JPL spokesperson defined. “They happen throughout cross-slope drives, and have a tendency to fall out totally on their very own after some time (there’s no specific technique to get this rock out of our ‘shoe’). These sorts of rocks don’t affect driving apart from making it a bit noisier.”
Since Perseverance picked up its pet rock, the pair has lined greater than 5 miles (8 km). We don’t know whether or not the rock will fall out or stick with the rover. But when it does depart, it is going to fall amongst rocks very completely different than itself. Perseverance is at present navigating Hawksbill Hole, one path to the highest of the Three Forks river delta. However the rocks it sampled on Might 29, 2022 (Sol 452) appears to be like like sedimentary rock. A lava rock could be removed from the Shire certainly.
Up to now, the Perseverance rover has collected eight rock core samples. The rover has now entered its Delta Entrance science marketing campaign. And it not too long ago bought permission from NASA to “decide its personal targets to zap.” However evidently Perseverance bought its pet rock by pure serendipity. Within the weblog publish, Ravanis quipped, “How do you select a rock on Mars? Typically you don’t— it chooses you.”