The Mars rover accidentally adopted a pet rock

life for perseveranceThe brave rover currently roaming the Red Planet some 132 million miles from Earth is feeling very lonely. From a dusty wasteland Jezero Crater to the stormy Mars windsLife on Mars is not for the faint of heart – or at least for those who are open minded. Thus, despite being a robot on a science research mission, researchers on NASA’s Perseverance mission team were recently surprised to discover that Perseverance had mistakenly adopted a pet rock.

It’s unclear whether the perseverance chose the boulder or the boulder chose perseverance, but scientists say the boulder found itself a comfortable spot on the rover’s front left wheel, at which point it began to cling to it. according to press release From NASA Around the Rock, the rock has been around since early February and has traveled more than 5.3 miles around Mars; Perseverance traveled itself a Total 7.3 miles Since landing on Mars in February 2021. Fortunately, the rock has done no harm to tenacity, although it certainly lives up to its owner as it continues to cling to the rover many miles away.

A rock stuck in the probe’s shoe (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This isn’t the first time a rover has adopted a rock—or rather, opted for a rover’s rock. For nearly 18 years, a rock the size of a potato was attached to the right wheel of the Spirit rover that had been on Mars from 2004 to 2010. Mission operators eventually had to eject the intruder remotely. The Curiosity rover, which landed on Mars in 2012, saw rocks periodically resting on its front right wheel. However, scientists say these types of relationships usually only last for a few weeks, not months.

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Since landing on Mars in February 2021, Perseverance has made an impressive list of early adopters. For example, the rover’s joint mission was the first time Helicopter was transported to another planet. Perseverance has also been able to extract oxygen from the red planet’s atmosphere for carbon dioxide, a method that could one day be used to provide oxygen to astronauts on Mars. And perhaps most importantly, Perseverance collected and stored soil and rock samples that would eventually become the first Martian rocks. back to earth for scientific study. She also now has the longest pet rock of any roving vehicle – nearly four months and counting. Is there anything perseverance cannot do?

In other perseverance news, newspaper Published in Science Advances Details of the perseverance notes of hundreds of dust demons and their famous video Wind blowing raises a huge Martian dust cloud. Scientists say perseverance observations of these atmospheric phenomena, made during the first 216 days on Mars of her adventure, could help predict future Mars dust storms.

Related: The strange geology of Mars is baffling scientists

“Jezero Crater may be in one of the most active sources of dust on the planet,” said Manuel de la Torre Juarez, deputy principal investigator at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. In a press release. “Everything new we learn about dust will be useful for future missions.”

The study authors discovered that as many as four whirlwinds go through perseverance on a typical Martian day—making a rocker-friend’s resilience to perseverance even more remarkable and impressive.

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Is the end of the rock’s journey looming? Scientists believe that the rock may fall during the future ascent of the crater rim due to gravity. And if that happens, you will land in an area with very different rocks from it. As Eleni Ravanis, a student collaborator at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, explained in a press release about the rock, a future Martian geologist will be baffled by the location of the rock.

“So: If you’re a Martian geologist from the future reading this, a graduate student from Mars might be tasked with mapping the historic site of Jezero Crater: Watch out,” Ravanis wrote. “If you find a rock that looks out of place, you might just look at the previous pet perseverance rock.”

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