Science

NASA’s Mars rover, Perseverance, has had a rock in its wheel for weeks. And now?

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Mars isn’t just around the corner, and anything that happens there has a virtually minimal reaction from here on Earth. As such, despite its easy appearance, NASA’s Perseverance rover, whose mission is to find evidence to know if there ever was life on Mars, has a rock in its wheel and it’s unclear. how he got there.

It is a small stone that became lodged in one of the six wheels of the North American agency’s space exploration vehicle worth 2,000 million euros.

Illustration of NASA's Perseverance rover on Mars

NASA vehicle has Mars rock on one wheel

Yes, it's fair to say that the Mars rover has "a thorn in its side." The intrusive rock was discovered on February 25 through a photograph taken by one of Perseverance's hazard detection cameras, known as Hazcams.

However, it is believed to have been around since early February.

Image of the stone in the wheel of perseverance

It remains to be seen how the stone ended up there. And it will certainly not be for the great journeys that this rover has made on Martian soil. Indeed, since its landing on Mars, Perseverance has traveled just over three kilometers above the Jezero crater, where it has collected several samples of Martian soil.

The most believable clue to what happened is that one of those rocks that should have been picked up fell into the wheel.

According to refer to NASA, in a final image captured by the Hazcams camera, the stone is still stuck in the front wheel of the rover. However, that didn't stop Perseverance from returning to where it originally landed to continue collecting soil samples.

So far, this incident does not appear to be a problem for NASA's Mars mission. The US agency has not revealed whether it will take action to get rid of the rock - if that is possible - or simply whether the rover will continue its tasks as long as the incident does not pose a real danger to the mission.

Perseverance wheels were inspired by Curiosity wheels

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory used all of its experience in developing the wheels of the Curiousitythe rover launched in 2011, to design the Perseverance wheels, each 52.6 centimeters in diameter.

The wheels are aluminum and have titanium spokes. They also feature new flooring. So instead of Curiosity's 24-pattern tread, now 48 slightly curved treads and the wheel has been beefed up, it's thicker. This comes from experience with the wheels of the Curiosity rover, which broke in various places.

The Perseverance mission is part of a biggest program of NASA, whose program Artemis part, which includes missions to the Moon as a way to prepare for future human exploration of Mars.

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