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Updated June 7th, 2022 at 22:49 IST

Perseverance rover is carrying a pet rock & it's breaking hitchhiking records, says NASA

Perseverance rover has picked up an unexpected travelling companion, a small rock and it is breaking hitch-hiking records on Mars, NASA revealed.

Reported by: Harsh Vardhan
Perseverance
Image: NASA | Image:self
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While on an exploration mission on Mars, NASA's Perseverance rover has picked up an unexpected travelling companion, a small rock. Perseverance's mission team says that the pet rock first hopped onto the rover's front left wheel four months ago and is refusing to get off. Interestingly, ever since hitching a ride onboard the rover, the rock has been transported to over 8.5 kilometres while clinging on since early February. NASA said that the rock is not doing damage to Perseverance's wheel but it keeps making appearances every now and then in photos taken by the rover's Hazard Avoidance Camera or Hazcam.

Perseverance's pet rock is making new records

According to Perseverance's mission team at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), this is not the first time when a Martian rock hitched a ride on a rover's wheel. About 18 years ago, a similar "potato-sized" rock found its way onto Spirit rover's rear right wheel and had to be dislodged. Apart from Spirit, the Curiosity rover is also known to pick a few companions every now and then, however, they hop off on their own after a few weeks. 

Interestingly, Perseverance's rock is likely to set new Mars hitch-hiking records as it could stay lodged onto the wheel for the longest period of time. In a blog recently published, the mission team revealed that Perseverance and its pet rock are in the Delta Front Campaign, and the rover abraded what might be its first sedimentary rock.

"It’s possible that the rock may fall out at some point along our future ascent of the crater rim. If it does so, it will land amongst rocks that we expect to be very different from itself," Perseverance's handlers said in a blog.

Most recently, NASA revealed that the rover has reached the site where it has the highest chance of finding signs of life on the red planet. Notably, the Martian samples collected by the rover will be bound for Earth in a few years under the Mars Sample Return campaign which would take off in the early next decade. 

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Published June 7th, 2022 at 22:49 IST

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