After more than a year together on the Red Planet, NASA’s Perseverance rover and its hitchhiking “pet rock” have finally parted ways. The stone had been lodged in one of the rover’s wheels for more than half of its mission on Mars.
Perseverance accidentally picked up the pet rock in its front left wheel on Feb. 4, 2022 or Sol 341 — the 341st Martian day of the mission. The rock posed no danger to the rover’s scientific mission but did manage to periodically photobomb images and cling on despite several vigorous maneuvers across the planet’s surface. Mission scientists previously likened the situation to “having a pebble stuck in your shoe.”
On April 18 (Sol 768), NASA released an image of the rover’s front left wheel showing the rock had been dislodged. In total, the rock remained in the rover’s wheel for around 439 days (427 Sols) — around 55% of the time Perseverance has spent on Mars since landing there on Feb 18, 2021. During that time, the pair traveled around 6.2 miles (10 kilometers) together. (A sol, or Martian day, is 37 minutes longer than an Earth day.)
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