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A small pile of pebbles is clogging up the Perseverance Mars rover’s operations. 

The rover, which is collecting rock samples for eventual return to Earth, began to struggle on Dec. 29, after extracting a core from a rock the mission team nicknamed “Issole.” According to a NASA blog, the problem occurred in the device that transfers the drill bit and sample out of the rover’s drill arm and into a carousel inside the rover’s chassis for storage. During the transfer, sensors within the rover recorded a higher-than-normal amount of friction at an unexpected point in the process. 

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