NASA’s rover ‘Perseverance’ has been walking on the surface of Mars since February 2021. Recently, researchers have discovered that the rover has found a travel buddy: a rock that is now stuck to one of its wheels. Though it has not inflicted any harm to NASA’s Perseverance or the work it has to do, the rock may not be parting with the rover anytime soon.
According to NASA, the rock got stuck to the front wheel of Perseverance in the first week of February, that is the 341st Martian day, and its picture was taken by the Hazard Avoidance Camera located at the front-left of the rover.
When the stone got stuck to the wheel, the rover was close to the Maaz formation, a part of the crater believed to be derived from ancient lava flows. The rock has remained stuck to the Perseverance since then and has accompanied the rover in its mission around Mars for more than five miles.
Perseverance is expected to scale one of the craters present on the red planet, called the Jezero, with steep slopes. Researchers believe that perhaps, the two companions may finally separate at this place. Once the stone falls off the rover, it will find itself among other stones that would be very different from the companion rock.
This is not the first time NASA’s Perseverance rover picked up a travel mate. The rover picked up several rocks previously, which fell off quickly, usually in a few days or weeks. However, this was the first time the rock remained attached to the rover for such a long time – making it a ‘Martian hitchhiking record’ as per a report by NASA.