For 4 months, the Perseverance rover has had an unexpected travel companion on Mars


How do you choose a partner? It doesn’t always have to be your choice, sometimes this one comes for you. Perseverance in her adventure on Mars, as she searches for signs of ancient life, she has unexpectedly adopted a companion. A pet rock that has been getting a ride for over 4 months.

Perseverance accidentally picked up the pet rock on February 4, or Sol 341 (Martian day). The rover didn’t ask for it, the rock was simply stuffed into the rover’s left front wheel and has since been transported more than 8.5 km. At the moment it does not present any difficulty for the mission, although the rock seems to cling to Perseverance since it has endured several months despite the rough terrain.


According to NASA, it is not the first time that a rock has slipped into a rover mission on Mars. About 18 years ago, a potato-sized rock snuck into the right rear wheel of the Spirit rover and had to be dislodged. On the Curiosity rover, the right front wheel has periodically picked up its traveling companion.

It is not known exactly how long these rocks have remained, it is estimated that they tend to skip after a few weeks. This means Perseverance’s current companion is on her way to breaking the record for hitchhikers on Mars if she hasn’t already.

Where could this pet rock end its journey?

If he’s still going, he may not have much time left. Perseverance is now rolling down the rim of Jezero Crater, the road is getting rougher and the pet rock may not hold. This rock is now far from home, so when it returns to the solid ground it will be among rocks that could be very different from it.

So: if you’re a Martian geologist from the future reading this, maybe a Martian graduate student tasked with mapping the Jezero Crater historical site: pay attention. If you’ve found a rock that seems out of place, you may be looking at Perseverance’s former pet rock!” NASA officials write.

Without a doubt, the pet rock is receiving a trip that nobody has done, exploring landscapes never seen before. “From the first distant views, my team dubbed this area ‘the bacon strip.’ (Now that I’m at the top, we’re calling it “Hogwallow Flats,” and the nearby rocks are a sight to behold. My team is happy as a pig in mud,” Perseverance’s account reads.

Among these landscapes that are literally from another world, on June 12, 2022 (Sol 466) the Perseverance rover photographed a curious rock formation that resembles a snake’s head, in addition, the image also shows a rock in balance. 

Below, in the actual image: on the left is a rock balanced on a much larger rock, and on the center-right, a formation that looks like the head of a snake with its mouth open. You can see the description of the image.

What do you think?

Written by Rachita Salian


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