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Perseverance Has a Pet Rock!
Mars Perseverance Sol 343 - Front Left Hazard Avoidance Camera: A rock in the front left wheel of Perseverance on Sol 343, image was acquired on Feb. 6, 2022 (Sol 343). Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech. Download image ›

The same rock still in the rover’s front left wheel on sol 449, image acquired on May 26, 2022 (Sol 449).
Mars Perseverance Sol 449 - Front Left Hazard Avoidance Camera: The same rock still in the rover’s front left wheel on sol 449, image acquired on May 26, 2022 (Sol 449). Download image ›
How do you choose a rock on Mars? Sometimes you don’t— it chooses you.

For the past 4 months, Perseverance has had an unexpected traveling companion. Back on sol 341— that’s over 100 sols ago, in early February— a rock found its way into the rover’s front left wheel, and since hitching a ride, it’s been transported more than 5.3 miles (8.5 km). This rock isn’t doing any damage to the wheel, but throughout its (no doubt bumpy!) journey, it has clung on and made periodic appearances in our left Hazcam images. 

This is not the first time a rock has hitched a ride on a Mars rover mission. Some 18 years ago, a “potato-sized” rock found its way into the Spirit rover’s rear right wheel, and had to be dislodged. On the Curiosity rover, the front right wheel has periodically picked up its own traveling companion. While it’s unclear exactly how long these rocks stuck around, they tended to hop off after a few weeks. Perseverance’s current companion is therefore on its way to setting Mars hitch-hiking records!

Perseverance’s pet rock has had some great views of Kodiak, a delta remnant, along its travels.
Mars Perseverance Sol 413 - Front Left Hazard Avoidance Camera: Perseverance’s pet rock has had some great views of Kodiak, a delta remnant, along its travels. Image taken using the Front Left Haz Avoidance Camera (Hazcam), acquired on April 19, 2022 (Sol 413). Download image ›
Perseverance’s pet rock has seen a lot on its travels. Back on sol 341, we were still in our Crater Floor Campaign, where we examined rocks that are part of the “Máaz” formation, which we believe is made up of lava flows. If this pet rock could talk, it might tell us about the changes it's noticed as we travelled back north through the Octavia E. Butler landing site, and then west, passing the spectacular remains of the former extent of the delta, “Kodiak,” on our journey to the western Jezero delta. We’re now in the Delta Front Campaign, and we just abraded what might be our first sedimentary rock. Perseverance’s pet rock is now a long way from home.

Where might this pet rock end its journey? It’s possible that the rock may fall out at some point along our future ascent of the crater rim. If it does so, it will land amongst rocks that we expect to be very different from itself. As one of our team members quipped this week, “we might confuse a future Mars geologist who finds it out of place!”

So: if you’re a Martian geologist from the future reading this, maybe a Martian graduate student tasked with mapping the historical site of Jezero crater: take heed. If you’ve found a rock that looks out of place, you might just be looking at the former pet rock of Perseverance!



About This Blog

These blog updates are provided by self-selected Mars 2020 mission team members who love to share what Perseverance is doing with the public.

Dates of planned rover activities described in these blogs are subject to change due to a variety of factors related to the Martian environment, communication relays and rover status.

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Contributors+

  • Mariah Baker
    Planetary Scientist, Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum
    Washington, DC
  • Matthew Brand
    SuperCam/ChemCam Engineer, Los Alamos National LaboratoryLos Alamos National Laboratory
  • Sawyer Brooks
    Docking Systems Engineer, NASA/JPL
    Pasadena, CA
  • Adrian Brown
    Deputy Program Scientist, NASA HQ
    Washington, DC
  • Denise Buckner
    Student Collaborator, University of Florida
    Gainesville, FL
  • Fred Calef III
    Mapping Specialist, NASA/JPL
    Pasadena, CA
  • Alyssa Deardorff
    Systems Engineer, NASA/JPL
    Pasadena, CA
  • Kenneth Farley
    Project Scientist, Caltech
    Pasadena, CA
  • Phylindia Gant
    Mars 2020 Student Collaborator, University of Florida
    Gainesville, FL
  • Brad Garczynski
    Student Collaborator, Purdue University
    West Lafayette, IN
  • Erin Gibbons
    Student Collaborator, McGill University
    Montreal, Canada
  • Michael Hecht
    Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment (MOXIE) Principal Investigator, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    Westford, MA
  • Louise Jandura
    Chief Engineer for Sampling & Caching, NASA/JPL
    Pasadena, CA
  • Lydia Kivrak
    Student Collaborator, University of Florida
    Gainesville, FL
  • Rachel Kronyak
    Systems Engineer, NASA/JPL
    Pasadena, CA
  • Steven Lee
    Perseverance Deputy Project Manager, NASA/JPL
    Pasadena, CA
  • Justin Maki
    Imaging Scientist and Mastcam-Z Deputy Principal Investigator, NASA/JPL
  • Sarah Milkovich
    Assistant Science Manager, NASA/JPL
    Pasadena, CA
  • Eleanor Moreland
    Ph.D. Student, Rice University
    Houston, Texas
  • Matt Muszynski
    Vehicle Systems Engineer, NASA/JPL
    Pasadena, CA
  • Claire Newman
    Atmospheric Scientist, Aeolis Research
    Altadena, CA
  • Avi Okon
    Sampling Operations Deputy Lead, NASA/JPL
    Pasadena, CA
  • Pegah Pashai
    Vehicle Systems Engineer Lead, NASA/JPL
    Pasadena, CA
  • David Pedersen
    Co-Investigator, PIXL Instrument, Technical University of Denmark (DTU)
    Copenhagen, Denmark
  • Eleni Ravanis
    Student Collaborator, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
    Honolulu, HI
  • Kathryn Stack
    Deputy Project Scientist, NASA/JPL
    Pasadena, CA
  • Vivian Sun
    Science Operations Systems Engineer, Staff Scientist, NASA/JPL
    Pasadena, CA
  • Iona (Brockie) Tirona
    Sampling Engineer, NASA/JPL
    Pasadena, CA
  • Jennifer Trosper
    Project Manager, NASA/JPL
    Pasadena, CA
  • Vandi Verma
    Chief Engineer for Robotic Operations, NASA/JPL
    Pasadena, CA
  • Rick Welch
    Deputy Project Manager, NASA/JPL
    Pasadena, CA
  • Roger Wiens
    Principal Investigator, SuperCam / Co-Investigator, SHERLOC instrument, Purdue University
    West Lafayette, IN

Tools on the Perseverance Rover+

The Perseverance rover has tools to study the history of its landing site, seek signs of ancient life, collect rock and soil samples, and help prepare for human exploration of Mars. The rover carries:


CAMERAS & SPECTROMETERS
GROUND-PENETRATING RADAR
ENVIRONMENTAL SENSORS
TECHNOLOGY DEMO
SAMPLE COLLECTION

Where is the Rover?

Image of a rover pin-point at Perseverance's location on Mars, Jezero Crater

View Map ›