"We might confuse a future Mars geologist who finds it out of place!"
What do you do when you discover you have a rock in your shoe — tens of millions of miles away from Earth?
NASA's Perseverance Mars rover has unknowingly been traveling with a pet rock companion since at least early February, covering over five miles across the deserted Martian surface with the rock stuck in one of its wheels.
Images taken by the rover's Mastcam shows a roughly potato-sized rock sitting comfortably inside the wheel arch of Perseverance's front left wheel.
Fortunately, according to a NASA update by Perseverance rover student collaborator Eleni Ravanis, Percy's pet rock isn't doing it any harm.
It's not the first time Martian rocks have taken an unofficial NASA Uber. Rocks have sometimes hopped on to the wheels of NASA's Curiosity rover, according to Ravanis, only to fall off weeks later.
Percy's pet rock must have gotten some spectacular views over the last couple of months, watching the surrounding landscape go from extended sandy banks to rocky hills.
The pet rock actually finds itself surrounded by rocks of a surprisingly different nature now. It was originally picked up while Perseverance was examining the floor of a crater, with the area's rocks thought to be the results of ancient lava flows. That's in contrast to the sedimentary rock of the suspected river delta Perseverance is studying these days.
"We might confuse a future Mars geologist who finds it out of place!" one Perseverance team member joked, according to Ravanis.
READ MORE: Perseverance has a pet rock [NASA]
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