Perseverance, a rover engineered by NASA, has managed to acquire an interesting tag-along friend while exploring Mars, the fourth-farthest planet from our sun. This friend isn’t sentient though; it’s a rock that got stuck in one of Perseverance’s wheels while the rover was investigating the formation of another rock.
So far, this “pet” of the Perseverance has traveled with the vehicle for 5.3 miles across a crater of the red planet. Spokespeople from NASA have expressed that they have viewed the rock occasionally through photos transmitted from the rover. There is a possibility that the rock could fall from the rover. If it did fall, it could possibly land among a different variant of rock. All of this travel encourages NASA that the rover has been able to carry the rock without damage to any significant system.
Perseverance is as large as an average car and has hosted this unexpected guest since February 4th of this year. On the rock’s journey alongside Perseverance, it has traveled across its landing site which was named after a deceased science-fiction author, Octavia Brown, and has advanced across the residue of a former delta.
This rock will hopefully lead to a discovery of how engineers could build rovers in a way that reduces or eliminates the risk of damage to the rover if a rock lodges itself into the rover’s inner mechanics. To slightly imitate the famous quote from Neil Armstrong, “This is one small step for rover and one giant leap for roverkind.”
[Sources: space.com; NASA; JPL-CalTech]