Skip to main content

NASA’s Mars rover marvels at ‘big chunky weirdo’

NASA’s Perseverance rover has been busy exploring Mars since landing there in spectacular fashion in February 2021.

The car-sized vehicle is equipped with a bunch of science tools and cameras to help it in its quest to find evidence of ancient microbial life on the distant planet. It’s also gathering together samples of Martian rock and soil for return to Earth in the ambitious Mars Sample Return mission. Additionally, the current mission offers an opportunity to test robotic technology that could be further developed for the first crewed mission to Mars.

Perseverance’s X (formerly Twitter) account is a hive of activity, with regular first-person reports keeping the rover’s 3 million fans up to date with its Mars-based activities.

Its latest tweet, shared this week, features an image of an unusually large Martian boulder that Perseverance describes as a “big chunky weirdo.”

“I spotted this boulder from a distance and have come in for a closer look,” the rover said. “It’s harder than most, with an odd shape and makeup.” We’re still waiting for an update.

Look at this big chunky weirdo. 🪨 I love it.

I spotted this boulder from a distance and have come in for a closer look. It’s harder than most, with an odd shape and makeup. #SamplingMars could be a challenge here, but I’m up for it! pic.twitter.com/WpNDoGjS91

— NASA's Perseverance Mars Rover (@NASAPersevere) July 25, 2023

In response to a follower’s inquiry, Perseverance confirmed that it is currently positioned atop the delta/fan formation at Jezero Crater, a dried-up lake that scientists believe offers a good chance of holding evidence of ancient life if any is to be found.

Perseverance said the rocks in the photo “look like they were brought in by an ancient river” that once flowed into the lake.

“Rock nerds rejoice!” the rover said in another tweet. “From big boulders to tiny pebbles, the ancient riverbed I’m exploring right now has it all. Washed in from upstream, these fragments can help my team uncover the river’s past and its potential for supporting ancient life.”

Rock nerds rejoice! From big boulders to tiny pebbles, the ancient riverbed I’m exploring right now has it all. Washed in from upstream, these fragments can help my team uncover the river’s past and its potential for supporting ancient life. Read more: https://t.co/s0hgK7rOKp pic.twitter.com/FDnzZz4eF3

— NASA's Perseverance Mars Rover (@NASAPersevere) July 19, 2023

It’s certainly an exciting time for the Perseverance team working at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Southern California, which is also overseeing achievements by Ingenuity, a drone-like machine that in 2021 became the first aircraft to achieve powered, controlled flight on another planet.

Trevor Mogg
Contributing Editor
Not so many moons ago, Trevor moved from one tea-loving island nation that drives on the left (Britain) to another (Japan)…
How to photograph April’s solar eclipse, according to NASA
A total solar eclipse.

Nikon recently shared some tips on photographing April’s total solar eclipse, and NASA is also offering its own ideas.

The total solar eclipse will take place on April 8, and folks in the U.S. will have a great opportunity to witness this extraordinary celestial event. A total solar eclipse occurs when the moon comes between the sun and Earth, momentarily blocking the sun’s rays and casting a huge shadow across a part of our planet.

Read more
Meet NASA’s trio of mini moon rovers set to launch next year
Part of NASA’s CADRE technology demonstration, three small rovers that will explore the Moon together show off their ability to drive as a team autonomously – without explicit commands from engineers – during a test in a clean room at the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in December 2023.

NASA is ramping up its plans for exploring the moon, not only in terms of preparing to send astronauts there but also rovers. There's the VIPER rover, which will search for water around the lunar south pole, and now NASA is introducing a trio of mini rovers called CADRE, or Cooperative Autonomous Distributed Robotic Exploration. These will work together as a team to map the lunar surface, testing the possibilities of using rovers in groups for future exploration.

The rovers, developed at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, are just the size of a carry-on suitcase. They are designed to move independently but share data so they can cover more ground than a single rover could. They'll have to work over a lunar day, which is about two weeks, to map out features on the surface and look below ground using radar.

Read more
It’s exactly 20 years since a Mars rover took this historic image
The first photo of Earth taken from the surface of another planet.

This is the first image taken of Earth from the surface of another planet. It was captured by NASA's Mars rover, Spirit, one hour before sunrise on the 63rd martian day, or sol, of its mission in 2004. NASA/JPL/Cornell/Texas AM

Twenty years ago, on March 8, a NASA Mars rover made history when it captured the first image of Earth from the surface of another planet.

Read more