NASA's Perseverance rover has carried this rocky hitchhiker about 8.5km across Mars. The picture of the rock was captured by the rover’s front left Hazard Avoidance Camera A on May 26, 2022. Picture: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Pet rock hitches ride NASA’s Mars Perseverance rover

NASA’s Perseverance rover has picked itself up a pet rock during its travels across Mars.

The rocky hitchhiker has been sitting in the rover’s left front wheel since February, traveling about 8.5 km across the Jezero Crater.

“This rock doesn’t cause any damage to the steering wheel, but during its (no doubt bumpy!) journey it has clung to itself and can be seen regularly* in our left HazCam* imagery,” said Eleni Ravanis, a student associate* on NASA’s Perseverance survey. mission.

Ms. Ravanis said Perseverance picked up the small rock on Feb. 4, the rover’s 341st day (or Sol, as Mars days are called) on the Red Planet.

At the time, Perseverance was exploring a rock formation called Máaz, which scientists believe is made up of ancient lava flows.

Since then, Perseverance has carried the rock north across the landing site, named after the famous late* science fiction writer Octavia E. Butler, and then west across the Kodiak Delta, which scientists believe are the remains of the intersection of an ancient river and lake at Jezero Crater.

Ms. Ravanis said the rover was now in its “Delta Front Campaign”, where it is believed to have drilled into its first Martian sedimentary* rock.

“Perseverance’s pet is now far from home,” Ms Ravanis wrote in a blog for the Mars 2020 mission.

“It is possible that the rock will fall out at some point during our future ascent* of the crater rim. If it does, it will land between rocks that we would expect to be very different from itself.

Ms. Ravanis, of the University of Hawaii at Mānoa, said this could really confuse “a future Mars geologist* who finds it out of place.”

But it’s not the first time a rock has hitched a ride on a Mars rover.

In 2004, the Spirit rover picked up a potato-sized rock in the right rear wheel that needed to be loosened. And the Curiosity rover, which will be 10 years on Mars by August, has also occasionally picked up rocks in its wheels during its mission in Mars’ Gale Crater.

“While it’s unclear exactly how long these rocks lasted, they tended to jump off after a few weeks,” Ms Ravanis said.

“Perseverance’s current companion is therefore on track to set the elevator record on Mars!”

WORD LIST

  • periodic: happens at regular intervals
  • HazCam: short for Hazard Avoidance Camera. Perseverance has four HazCams to watch out for hazards such as large rocks, ditches or sand dunes
  • collaborator: a person who works with others on a project
  • leave: refers to someone who has died
  • sedimentary: having to do with rock formed from sediment deposited by water or air
  • ascent: climb or move up
  • geologist: person who studies the history of the earth through rocks and rock formations

ADDITIONAL READING

NASA rover lands on Mars

Mars helicopter ready to fly

Space race continues on Mars

Mars rover’s parachute carried a secret message

QUICK QUIZ

  1. How far was the rock of Perseverance carried by the rover?
  2. What date would Perseverance have retrieved the rock?
  3. Which campaign is Perseverance in now?
  4. What did Perseverance drill into as part of this campaign?
  5. Name one of the other Mars rovers who picked up rock lifters.

LISTENING TO THIS STORY

CLASSROOM ACTIVITIES
1. Create a storyboard
Create a storyboard, script, or storyline for an animation inspired by the journey of the rock. Your animation can be scientific and factual, or a creative story.

Time: allow 30 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Science, Media Art

2. Extension
Design a wheel for a Mars rover that does not pick up stones or a wheel that can collect and store stones for study on Earth.

Time: allow 30 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Science, Visual Communication Design

VCOP ACTIVITY
Rock and roll on Mars
Mars rover Perseverance has made a new friend. It kinda sounds like Wall-E and his little cockroach friend. Pitch a scene idea to Pixar sharing a new movie featuring Perseverance and his favorite rock.

In addition to a short scene description, add a blurb or outline of what the entire movie might be about, in line with what Perseverance is and why he’s on Mars. Maybe it could be one of Pixar’s next “shorts” (one minute animated stories).

Use your VCOP skills to connect with the audience, create image and emotion and make your ideas rock!

#Pet #rock #hitches #ride #NASAs #Mars #Perseverance #rover

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