It’s the end of an era, at least for the Perseverance rover, which has been exploring the Jezero crater on Mars for more than two years. The vehicle has lost its “rock” friend.
The Perseverance rover for 427 soles (equivalent to an Earth day) moved across the surface of Mars with additional baggage in the form of a rock. He drove his “friend” in one of the wheels. It turned out that in the last image broadcast from the SuperCam camera of the vehicle, the stone is no longer visible.
“He spent 427 soles (more than an Earth year) with us and traveled about 10 kilometers. Goodbye rock friend, I will miss you,” Dr. Gwénaël Caravaca, a Mars geologist who works with the SuperCam instrument, tweeted. This rock accompanied the rover during many observations.
The Perseverance rover traveled with the rock
The rock was first spotted in early February 2022, during Sol 341. She somehow ended up in the left front wheel and stayed with the rover for a long time, like a true friend.
This isn’t the first time a Mars rover has come across such a rock. About 18 years ago, a potato-sized rock found its way into the right rear wheel of the Spirit rover. The object had to be removed for the sake of the mission. The “rock collector” is also the Curiosity rover, whose front right wheel occasionally picks up some Martian rock. While it’s not known exactly how long these stones stayed around, they tended to fall off after a few weeks.
Perseverance studies the planet and its climate
Perseverance is a Martian rover sent by NASAthat landed on the surface of the Red Planet in February 2021. A key objective of this mission is astrobiology research, including the preservation of samples that may contain traces of past microbial life. The rover studies the geology of the planet and its climate, which will pave the way for the next stages of exploration of the Red Planet in the future. This is the first mission to collect and store Martian rocks and regolith.
In addition to searching for signs of life on Mars, the Perseverance mission is to help develop technology that will enable a manned flight to Mars. Scientists want to find out, among other things, whether it is possible to obtain and store oxygen from the Martian atmosphere.
universetoday.com, NASA, PAP, tvnmeteo.pl
Main photo source: NASA/JPL-Caltech