A rock has hitched a ride in one of NASA's Mars Perseverance Rover's wheels.A rock has hitched a ride in one of NASA's Mars Perseverance Rover's wheels.

You’ll sympathize with NASA’s Perseverance rover if you’ve ever had a stone trapped in your shoe. A boulder got lodged in one of the wheels of the traveling Mars explorer, and it’s been there for a while. It’s not a boulder, but it’s also not a little pebble.

The rock has caught the attention of space enthusiasts. Last week, the audience chose a photo from February 25 as Perseverance’s “Image of the Week.” The hitchhiker’s most recent sighting was on March 2.

The raw photos from the rover are updated regularly by NASA. Looking through the archives, I saw that the rock showed in the vehicle’s hazard-avoidance camera photographs as early as February 6, but I didn’t undertake a thorough search.

Perseverance appears to have acquired a pet rock, so I contacted NASA to ask whether it has been given a name. If not, I think “Rocco” would be a decent choice.

Perseverance’s six aluminum wheels include cleats that grip the Jezero Crater’s harsh, rocky, and dusty environment. The diameter of each wheel is 20.7 inches (52.5 cm). Compared to the earlier Curiosity rover wheels, which have taken a pounding but are still working after many years on Mars, NASA’s newest rover has a more modern design.

The rock isn’t slowing perseverance’s roll. The rover has been making its journey across Mars, breaking records along the way. It’s a tribute to the rover’s rigid wheel design if anything. I wouldn’t go anyplace if I had a rock that big in my shoe.

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