NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover performed its first drive on Mars on March 4, covering 21.3 feet (6.5 meters) across the Martian landscape. The drive served as a mobility test that marks just one of many milestones as team members check out and calibrate every system, subsystem, and instrument on Perseverance. Once the rover begins pursuing its science goals, regular commutes extending 656 feet (200 meters) or more are expected.
“When it comes to wheeled vehicles on other planets, there are few first-time events that measure up in significance to that of the first drive,” said Anais Zarifian, Mars 2020 Perseverance rover mobility testbed engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. “This was our first chance to kick the tires and take Perseverance out for a spin. The rover’s six-wheel-drive responded superbly. We are now confident our drive system is good to go, capable of taking us wherever the science leads us over the next two years.”Anais Zarifian
The drive, which lasted about 33 minutes, propelled the rover forward 13 feet (4 meters), where it then turned in place 150 degrees to the left and backed up 8 feet (2.5 meters) into its new temporary parking space.
To help better understand the dynamics of a retrorocket landing on the Red Planet, engineers used Perseverance’s Navigation and Hazard Avoidance Cameras to image the spot where Perseverance touched down, dispersing Martian dust with plumes from its engines.
Whats The Mission About?
A key objective of Perseverance’s mission on Mars is astrobiology, including the search for signs of ancient microbial life. The rover will characterize the planet’s geology and past climate, pave the way for human exploration of the Red Planet, and be the first mission to collect and cache Martian rock and regolith.
Subsequent NASA missions, in cooperation with ESA (European Space Agency), would send spacecraft to Mars to collect these sealed samples from the surface and return them to Earth for in-depth analysis.
The Mars 2020 Perseverance mission is part of NASA’s Moon to Mars exploration approach, which includes Artemis missions to the Moon that will help prepare for human exploration of the Red Planet.
JPL, which is managed for NASA by Caltech in Pasadena, built and manages operations of the Perseverance rover.
The engineers at NASA have made remarkable progress with the Perseverance no doubt. In the coming weeks, more discoveries will be made as she navigates her way through the red planet. Discoveries that could perhaps help us understand Planet Mars better and hopefully share in a little bit of her richness. We look forward to more news and new heights attained as we wish NASA good luck.
Check out our story on Lussoautos about the mission to Mars by clicking the link below: