A new martian rock has somehow stuck on Perseverance rover’s right front wheel, this is in addition to the rock that is still stuck in its left front wheel since early 2022.
Astrophotographer Simeon Schmauss first saw the new rock in late February and tweeted a mosaic of both rocks.
The rover’s hazard avoidance cameras are mounted low on left and right on the rover & help keep an eye on the terrain, monitor the wheels, and keep an eye on rocky hitchhikers.
The older rock in the left wheel has traveled with the rover for many miles and has seen a collection of rock samples.
Now it might have become the first sample depot on another planet.
One of Perseverance’s primary goal is to help us understand if life ever existed on Mars.
Transporting the rover’s samples to Earth for further study via the future Mars Sample Return mission is an essential part of this effort.
The new rock may stick around or fall out of the wheel as Perseverance roves by the Jezero Crater.
NASA has reworked the design for Percy’s aluminum wheels so they’ll stand the rough phase across rocky Martian landscapes.
The real treasure in Mars exploration might be these unexpected discoveries and the rocky friends we make along the way.