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Impossible-Looking Mars Rock Stars in Stunning NASA Rover Image

A round rock looks like it's balancing in an unlikely place.

A cropped look at a Mars landscape has a red circle highlighting a small round rock balanced on a larger angular rock.
This cropped view of a Perseverance Mars rover image shows a fascinating round rock that appears to be balancing on a larger rock.
NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/Red circle by Amanda Kooser/CNET

This story is part of Welcome to Mars, our series exploring the red planet.

I'd like to share my excitement about a rock. It's kind of roundish. It's sitting on -- or perhaps attached to or eroded from -- another taller, bigger rock. I love this rock. It doesn't look like it should be doing what it's doing. It looks like it should have rolled away or fallen off. But it's just there, doing its rock thing. On Mars. 

NASA's Perseverance rover captured the Martian rock in a wider image taken with its mast-mounted camera on June 12. Check out the full landscape:

NASA's Perseverance rover snapped this view of Mars in the river delta region of Jezero Crater on June 12.


Did you take it all in? The little round daredevil rock is just one feature worthy of note. There's also the sloping sandy ground, the layered cliff and a protuberance that resembles a snake's head or a seal with its mouth open.

Perseverance is currently exploring a fascinating river delta region in the Jezero Crater. Scientists are giddy with excitement for this part of the mission because it could help us understand if Mars was once home to microbial life. The rover will be collecting rock samples that will hopefully be brought back to Earth for study. 

The eye-catching image captured the imaginations of Mars fans online. Astrobiologist David Grinspoon called it "perhaps the most evocative photo ever taken on Mars." I nodded my head in agreement, though it has some stiff competition from a bevy of gorgeous rover snapshots.

It wasn't enough for some to simply appreciate the beauty of the view as-is; they needed to expand on it. So here's the landscape with a Gorn from Star Trek:

And with Rafiki standing on the cliff lifting Simba from Disney's The Lion King (cue Circle of Life):

And with Looney Tunes' Wile E. Coyote apparently looking for signs of roadrunners on Mars:

So there you go. This gem of a Perseverance rover view can be simultaneously one of the most awe-inspiring and one of the funniest photos ever taken on Mars. Meep-meep.