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NASA’s Perseverance rover appears to have a piece of Mars rock stuck on one of its wheels, new images show.

A picture of the unforeseen passenger was captured by the vessel’s Front Left Hazard Avoidance Camera and shoes the piece of rock wedged in the interior of the front wheel.

Experts believe the vessel must have picked up the debris while exploring a part of Mars known as Jezero Crater.

NASA’s Perseverance has been on Mars since February 2021 and cost the space agency $2.2 billion to build.

The rover’s six wheels are made of aluminium with a tread that enables it to have traction as it explores the so-called red planet and its rocky terrain.

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A picture of the rock lodged in one of the wheels was captured on 25 February by images taken by the onboard Hazcam, and the rock has since remained firmly in place, suggesting it’s not going anywhere any time soon.

The picture won NASA’s Mars Perseverance “Image of the Week” by public vote. However, one eagle-eyed sleuth at CNET found that the rock could have been in place from as early as 6 February.

Raw images captured by the rover’s onboard Hazcam are routinely posted online and show that over time the rock has barely shifted from its wedged position.

A spokesperson from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory told Gizmodo: “It’s not perceived as a risk. We’ve seen these kinds of rocks get ‘caught’ in Curiosity’s wheels from time to time, too.

“They occur during cross-slope drives, and tend to fall out entirely on their own after a while (there’s no particular way to get this rock out of our ‘shoe’). These kinds of rocks don’t impact driving other than making it a bit noisier.”

One person believed that an image released by a Mars rover showed an alien looking back at it. Meanwhile, NASA believes its rover Curiosity may have actually found life on Mars.

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