September 30, 2022
NASA's Perseverance rover on Mars has a 'pet rock' along for the ride

The rover has collected a “pet rock” tucked inside its left front wheel that has been riding along with Perseverance since early February. So far, its ridden across 5.3 miles (8.5 kilometers) with the Perseverance rover as it drives across its Jezero Crater home on Mars. 

“This rock isn’t doing any damage to the wheel, but throughout its (no doubt bumpy!) journey, it has clung on and made periodic appearances in our left Hazcam images,” Eleni Ravanis, a student collaborator on NASA’s Perseverance mission from the University of Hawaii at Mānoa, wrote in an update (opens in new tab). 

According to Ravanis, Perseverance picked up the small Mars rock on Feb. 4, the rover’s 341st day (or Sol as Mars days are called) on the Red Planet. At the time, Perseverance was exploring a rock formation called “Máaz” that scientists think was made up of ancient lava flows.

Since then, Perseverance has carried the rock north across its landing site, named for the famed late science fiction author Octavia E. Butler, and then west across the remains a region called “Kodiak,” the remains of a former delta at Jezero. The rover is currently in the midst of what NASA calls its Delta Front Campaign and may have drilled into its first sedimentary Mars rock, Ravanis wrote. 

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