A Perfectly Balanced Rock Seen by Perseverance

NASA's Mars Perseverance rover acquired this image using its Right Mastcam-Z camera. Mastcam-Z is a pair of cameras located high on the rover's mast. This image was acquired on June 12, 2022 (Sol 466) at the local mean solar time of 12:20:39. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU

The Perseverance rover has begun exploring a region that looks a little like Monument Valley in Arizona and Utah in the US, or perhaps like a set on an old sci-fi movie. The rover’s science team has nicknamed the area “Hogwallow Flats,” and the rock formations in this area on Mars are stunning in their varied and sometimes absurd shapes and structures. One wonders what took place here eons ago to create the weird variety of formations.

While small, one feature catches the eye:  a smaller rock that appears to be perfectly perched and balanced on top of a larger rock formation.

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Perseverance Has Been Carrying a Rock in its Wheel for Over 100 Days

NASA's Mars Perseverance rover acquired this image of a rock inside the rover's wheel, along with the area in front of it using its onboard Front Left Hazard Avoidance Camera A. This image was acquired on May 26, 2022 (Sol 449) at the local mean solar time of 15:39:48. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Why does a Mars rover have a rock in one of its wheels? Maybe it’s because a rover doesn’t have pockets.

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? The Perseverance rover is doing just that, having carried a random Mars rock in its wheel for quite some time.

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Perseverance is Seeing A LOT of Dust Devils

NASA's Perseverance Mars rover used one of its navigation cameras to capture these dust devils swirling across Jezero Crater on July 20, 2021, the 148th Martian day, or sol, of the mission. cREDIT: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI

While the Mars InSight lander is still waiting for a passing dust devil to clean off its solar panels, it appears the Perseverance rover sees dust devils several times a day.

A new paper detailing the first 216 days of Perseverance’s mission in Jezero Crater reports how the newest rover on Mars appears to be located in a “dust storm track” that runs north to south across the planet. Jezero Crater has particularly high levels of dust and wind activity.

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Martian Dust is Starting to Darken Ingenuity’s Solar Panels

This image of NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter was taken by the Mastcam-Z instrument of the Perseverance rover on June 15, 2021, the 114th Martian day, or sol, of the mission. The location, "Airfield D" (the fourth airfield), is just east of the "Séítah" geologic unit. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/MSSS.

Like every solar-panel-powered vehicle on Mars, maintaining electrical power always becomes an issue at some point in the mission. Last week, mission controllers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory lost contact with the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter. While they were able to re-establish communications, which is done through the Perseverance rover, engineers know that keeping Ingenuity’s batteries charged is going to be increasingly difficult as the dark winter is on the way to Jezero Crater.

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Ingenuity is now Scouting Ahead of Perseverance, Helping it Navigate Difficult Terrain

NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter recently surveyed a ridgeline near the ancient river delta in Mars’ Jezero Crater at request of the Perseverance rover’s science team. On the left is the full image Ingenuity acquired of the ridgeline on April 23, 2022, during its 27th flight. The science team calls the line of rocky outcrops running from the upper left to middle right of the main image “Fortun Ridge.” Enlarged at right is a close-up of one of the ridgeline’s rocky outcrops. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The Ingenuity Mars Helicopter is providing scientists a look at what is on the road ahead for the Perseverance rover. And acting as a scout, Ingenuity can tell the team what places to avoid, too.

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Amazing! Ingenuity Helicopter Flies to the Perseverance Backshell and Parachute to See Them Close Up

This image of the Perseverance rover's parachute and backshell was taken by the Ingenuity helicopter during its 26th flight on April 22, 2022. Credit: NASA/JPL/Caltech

You may recall we reported earlier this month that the Perseverance rover finally spotted its parachute and backshell off in the distance. This is the hardware that safely brought the rover to Mars surface on February 18, 2021.

But now, the incredible Ingenuity helicopter has snapped better images of those items, while it was hovering in the Martian air during its 26th flight.

And what a mess! The poor backshell crashed to the surface, splitting into pieces.  

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Perseverance Begins the Next Phase of its Mission, Studying an Ancient River Bed on Mars

On February 18, 2021, NASA’s Perseverance (Percy) Rover successfully landed in the dried-up lakebed known as Jezero Crater on Mars, beaming back images and video of its descent and landing to millions of space fans living on the planet that built and launched this incredible robotic explorer. With this landing came enormous excitement for a new era of robotic exploration of the Red Planet as we slowly continue to unlock the secrets of Mars and its ancient past, to include (hopefully) finding evidence of past life.

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Perseverance Finally Spots its Own Parachute on the Surface of Mars

The parachute of the Perseverance rover lies on the Martian regolith in the distance. Sol 404 - MastCam-Z image. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/Kevin M. Gilk

More than 13 months after the Perseverance rover landed on Mars (on February 18, 2021), the rover’s cameras have finally spotted some of the parts of the Mars 2020 landing system that got the rover safely to the ground.  The parachute and backshell were imaged by Perseverance’s MastCam-Z, seen off in the distance, just south of the rover’s current location. The image was taken on Sol 404, or April 6, 2022 on Earth.

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What a Feat! Ingenuity Photographed From Space

It seems like only months ago that the Perseverance Rover landed in Jezero Crater on Mars. But in fact, it’s been there longer than a year. Perseverance has had company during this time; its sidekick, the Ingenuity helicopter, completed 23 flights in Mars’ thin atmosphere so far.

The HiRISE camera on the MRO has captured an image of the rover and the tiny helicopter on Mars as it rests on the surface.

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