The Mars Perseverance Rover Has Picked Up a Hitchhiker — and NASA Says It's a Long Way From Home
By: April Carson
For the past four months, the Mars Perseverance rover has been caring for a pet rock — or a surprising stowaway — and it's only gotten weirder.
The rock in question, nicknamed "Pebble," was discovered by the rover on its very first drive. It was wedged between two larger rocks, and scientists think it may have been carried there by a rolling Mars boulder.
But where did Pebble come from?
It's possible that Pebble is a chunk of Martian meteorite that was blasted off the surface of the red planet by an impact and landed on Earth. But there's also a chance that Pebble is an Earth rock that was picked up by the rover and carried to Mars.
Either way, Pebble is a long way from home. And it's not the only one.
According to NASA, the "unanticipated traveling companion" first hopped a ride on the rover's front left wheel in February and has been riding around ever since. So far, it has traveled more than 5.3 miles as the rover transmits photos of Mars to Earth.
This rock has not harmed the wheel, but it has clung to it and appeared in our Hazcam photos during (surely rocky!) its journey. persistence's pet rock has experienced a lot during its travels... " If this pet rock could speak, it would tell us about the changes it had observed as we [traveled] back north through the Octavia E. Butler landing site, then west, passing the magnificent remains of the former delta extent 'Kodiak,' on our way to the western Jezero delta."
The pet rock, while clumsily spinning on the wheel, has a good chance of falling off and landing among pebbles that are quite distinct. It's not clear what kind of future this pet rock has on the red planet. But for now, it seems to be enjoying the ride.
"We may perplex a future Mars geologist who discovers it out of place, as one of our team members joked this week," NASA stated. "But in a mission that is all about seeking the signs of past life on Mars, one never knows what might turn up."
It's not the first time a rover has discovered a rocky traveling companion; in fact, it happened previously, according to NASA. The Spirit rover acquired a "tiny" rock that got caught in the rear right wheel and had to be removed about 18 years ago. Curiosity also picked up rocks on occasion.
The previous record holder was Opportunity, which reached the Endeavour rock in October 2011. Perseverance is on its way to setting Mars hitch-hiking records!
"The team is still discussing the implications of this find and what, if any, further study is warranted," NASA said.
The Curiosity rover, which is part of NASA's Mars Science Laboratory mission, landed on the red planet on February 18, 2021. It was sent to "seek evidence of ancient life and gather samples of rock and regolith (broken rock and dirt) for possible return to Earth." Since its arrival, it has been active on Twitter and sending photographs.
In late July, the Grand Canyon will host a star party that includes a Mars Perseverance presentation on June 18 to learn about the rover from someone who was there throughout its development.
In early August, Perseverance will attempt to land on Mars. The rover is the size of a car and weighs about 2,000 pounds (900 kilograms). It is equipped with a drill to collect samples of rock and regolith, which will be analyzed for evidence of past microbial life.
The journey to Mars will take approximately seven months. The rover will land in Jezero Crater, which scientists believe was once a lake bed.
Perseverance's mission is to "seek evidence of ancient life and gather samples of rock and regolith for possible return to Earth." If all goes according to plan, it will touch down on the red planet in February 2021.
The rover is not the only one making the journey to Mars. It is accompanied by Ingenuity, a small helicopter that will be the first aircraft to attempt powered flight on another planet.
Evidence of an Ancient Civilization on Mars-Secrets Within Our Solar System
About the Blogger:
April Carson is the daughter of Billy Carson. She received her bachelor's degree in Social Sciences from Jacksonville University, where she was also on the Women's Basketball team. She now has a successful clothing company that specializes in organic baby clothes and other items. Take a look at their most popular fall fashions on bossbabymav.com
To read more of April's blogs, check out her website! She publishes new blogs on a daily basis, including the most helpful mommy advice and baby care tips! Follow on IG @bossbabymav
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