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Perseverance Sheds Unwanted Passenger: Farewell to the Mars Rover’s Stowaway Stone

A photo showing the rock on Perseverances wheel. NASA.

The Stowaway Stone’s Journey Comes to an End

NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover has finally parted ways with the stone that had been lodged inside one of its wheels for over a year. Initially spotted in images taken on February 25, 2022, the stone was visible thanks to the rover’s left front HazCam—one of six hazard-detection cameras carried by Perseverance to identify potential threats in its path.

A Travel Companion for 427 Martian Days

Dr. Gwénaël Caravaca, who works with the rover’s SuperCam instrument, noticed on April 20 that the stone had disappeared from the latest HazCam image. The stone had accompanied Perseverance for 427 sols (Martian days) and traveled approximately 10 km since sol 341. Caravaca bid farewell to the stone in a tweet, saying, “Goodbye rock friend, we will miss you!”

A Harmless Hitchhiker

At the time of the stone’s discovery, NASA confirmed it posed no damage to the rover. Stones can become lodged in wheels when the rover navigates slopes, traverses loose ground, or breaks rocks under its weight, as reported by Universe Today.

Perseverance Rover and its Buddy on Mars

NASA’s Perseverance rover has captured a detailed view of its Mars counterpart, Ingenuity, displaying the robotic helicopter’s dust-covered blades.

Recently, Perseverance approached within a mere 75 feet (23 meters) of Ingenuity, which accompanied the large rover on its journey to the Red Planet. This marks the first instance in nearly two years that Perseverance has been so close to the helicopter, according to NASA officials on Twitter.

On Sunday (April 16), Perseverance took several photos of Ingenuity during its close encounter, which NASA shared on Twitter on Tuesday (April 18). The images reveal the helicopter’s rotor blades coated in Martian dust, likely stirred up during Ingenuity’s takeoff, hovering, and landing activities.