Perseverance Rover

The Perseverance Rover has Lost its Pet Rock

It’s the end of an era, at least for the Perseverance rover on Mars, who has lost a long-time friend.

For 427 sols or days on Mars, Perseverance has been carrying around a rock in one of its wheels.  We’ve been following the saga of this pet rock, which for over a year has stuck with Perseverance over the hills and sands of the Martian landscape.

However, according to Dr. Gwénaël Caravaca, who works with the rover’s SuperCam instrument, the team found out overnight in the latest Hazcam image that the rock has been lost.

“It spent 427 Sols with us (more than an Earth year!), and traveled about 10 km since Sol 341,” Caravaca tweeted. “Farewell Rock Friend, you will be missed!”

The rock was first seen back in early February, 2022 (on Earth, or about sol 341 for the lifetime of Perseverance on Mars). It somehow ended up in the rover’s left front wheel and like a good friend, stuck with the rover for a long time. Someone said Perseverance put its favorite rock in its wheel because the rover doesn’t have pockets. NASA has said the rock wasn’t doing any damage, but I wonder if Perseverance found the clunking, grating noise annoying at times.

Rover engineers have said that rocks can get into the wheels when the rovers are traversing slopes. They can also get in there as the rover moves over loose terrain and as the rover’s weight breaks rocks into pieces.

NASA’s Mars Perseverance rover acquired this image of its (empty) wheel using onboard Front Left Hazard Avoidance Camera A on April 18, 2023 (Sol 768). Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

During the year when the rover was carrying the rock, many humans could relate. Who among us hasn’t picked up a great rock, carried it around, maybe saved it for a long time, or even placed it somewhere safe or special?

But maybe Perseverance ditched this rock because it’s looking for an even better one. And there appears to be a few rocks to choose from.

This image of a rock field on Mars also shows the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter and was taken by the Mastcam-Z instrument of the Perseverance rover on June 15, 2021, the 114th Martian day, or sol, of the mission. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/MSSS.

You can find all the raw images from Perseverance — and see what it sees almost every day — at the rover’s website.

Nancy Atkinson

Nancy has been with Universe Today since 2004, and has published over 6,000 articles on space exploration, astronomy, science and technology. She is the author of two books: "Eight Years to the Moon: the History of the Apollo Missions," (2019) which shares the stories of 60 engineers and scientists who worked behind the scenes to make landing on the Moon possible; and "Incredible Stories from Space: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Missions Changing Our View of the Cosmos" (2016) tells the stories of those who work on NASA's robotic missions to explore the Solar System and beyond. Follow Nancy on Twitter at https://twitter.com/Nancy_A and and Instagram at and https://www.instagram.com/nancyatkinson_ut/

Recent Posts

The Most Dangerous Part of a Space Mission is Fire

Astronauts face multiple risks during space flight, such as microgravity and radiation exposure. Microgravity can…

30 mins ago

Stars Can Survive Their Partner Detonating as a Supernova

When a massive star dies in a supernova explosion, it's not great news for any…

3 hours ago

Swarming Satellites Could Autonomous Characterize an Asteroid

An asteroid's size, shape, and rotational speed are clues to its internal properties and potential…

9 hours ago

Officially, Only the Sun Can Have Planets. Is it Time to Fix the Definition of “Planet”?

What is the true definition of a planet, and could there be a more refined…

16 hours ago

Neutron Star is Spraying Jets Like a Garden Sprinkler

X-ray binaries are some of the oddest ducks in the cosmic zoo and they attract…

23 hours ago

NASA Stops Work on VIPER Moon Rover, Citing Cost and Schedule Issues

NASA says it intends to discontinue development of its VIPER moon rover, due to cost…

23 hours ago