The rover continues its research on Mars. A stone is stuck in one of his wheels. Engineers working on the rover mission aren’t sure when the rock will break off.
For the past four months, the Mars Perseverance rover has been circling the Red Planet with extra baggage. On Sol 341 (equivalent to a Mars day), around February, there was a stone on one of its front wheels. Since then, the material has been moved over 8.5 kilometers. Fortunately, the Martian rock does no harm to the rover.
This isn’t the first time a Mars probe has encountered such a stone. About 18 years ago, a rock the size of a potato found its way into the right rear wheel of a Spirit rover. The object had to be removed for the sake of the task. The “Stone Collector” is also a Curiosity rover, the front right wheel occasionally picking up some Martian rocks. While it is not known exactly how long these stones have remained nearby, they tend to fall off after a few weeks. Therefore, the stone accompanying perseverance has a chance to become the record holder in hiking courses on Mars.
It is not clear when the stone will separate
This rock accompanied the rover during many observations. Even on Sol 341, the rover was at the bottom of the crater, studying rock formations, which may have formed from lava. Then it passed Octavia e Butler Square, the remarkable remains of the former “Kodiak” delta and the western Jezero delta. There are many indications that it may have been the first sedimentary rock there.
Scientists are not sure when the rock will fall off the rover. This can happen when driving to the edge of a crater. If this happens, then it will be among the stones from which they may differ significantly. As the researchers joke, in this way “we will confuse a future Martian geologist who finds it in an unusual environment.”
Main image source: NASA/JPL-Caltech
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