What’s This Bizarre Balancing Rock on Mars?

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This image was taken by Perseverance on Sol 466, or June 12, 2022 by Earth's calendar.

This picture was taken by Perseverance on Sol 466, or June 12, 2022 by Earth’s calendar.
Picture: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU

My colleague seen one thing unusual within the newest batch of photographs from NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover: A rounded rock seems to be fastidiously balanced on a jagged outcropping. How did that get there?

The photograph was taken in Jezero Crater on Mars to the fitting of Perseverance. Mastcam-Z on Sol 466, which corresponds to June 12 right here on Earth.

I emailed NASA to ask what the rock could possibly be and if there’s something actually bizarre right here. James Rice, a geologist on the Mastcam-Z staff at Arizona State College’s College of Earth and Area Exploration, replied:

Balanced Rocks (generally referred to as PBRs for Precariously Balanced Rocks) of varied sizes, starting from small rock sizes (inches) to formations lots of of toes tall, happen naturally and aren’t that uncommon. Usually a steadiness rock is in reality related to the bigger underlying rock by a stem or pedestal. The Martian equilibrium rock proven is discovered within the Rockytop outcrop close to the bottom of the delta and sure fashioned after in depth aeolian (wind) and/or chemical erosion carved it out of the native bedrock.

Some of these options are extra than simply geological curiosities; in reality, they’ve been referred to as “inverse seismometers” as a result of the existence of PBRs makes it doable to measure earthquakes/marsquakes that didn’t happen. If these rocks are nonetheless in steadiness, then the bottom hasn’t moved sufficient to knock them over. We will then use these options to be taught concerning the seismic historical past of a area.

Ah sure, a traditional PBR. I am glad that cleared up!

Image for article titled What is this strange balanced rock on Mars?

Picture: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU

Across the similar time as this picture, the Perseverance rover acquired a photograph of a shiny piece of fabric embedded in some rocks, and NASA believes it could possibly be a chunk of the rover’s thermal blanket from its touchdown in 2021. NASA tweeted that the rover landed 2 kilometers (1.25 miles) from the place the stays of the blanket have been discovered, however notes that it might have been blown about by the wind or landed there by itself.

The Perseverance rover detected what could be a piece of the thermal blanket used during the probe's landing on Mars in 2021.

The Perseverance rover detected what could possibly be a chunk of the thermal blanket used through the probe’s touchdown on Mars in 2021.
Picture: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU

We get hold of unusual footage of mars on a regular basis, and we have seen rocks that appear like squirrels, spoons, doorways, and extra. Our eyes play methods on us, and that is very true when taking a look at an odd panorama full of acquainted and unfamiliar sights. We’re taking a look at two-dimensional representations of a three-dimensional world, so these optical illusions are certain to occur.

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