NASA’s Perseverance rover has taken its first check drive on Mars, the company introduced Friday (March 5).
Perseverance, a car-sized rover that landed successfully on the Red Planet Feb. 18, simply made its first brief drive on Thursday, NASA officers mentioned. The rover moved a complete of 21.three ft (6.5 meters) throughout the Martian terrain on a drive that took about 33 minutes, throughout which Perseverance moved ahead, turned in place and backed up. The rover drives with a high pace of .01 miles per hour (.016 kilometers).
“Our first drive went extremely properly,” NASA’s Anais Zarifian, a Perseverance mobility check mattress engineer on the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. Zarifian added that the rover “works superbly, we have been so excited.”
“That is actually only the start,” Zarifian mentioned.
In the course of the briefing, mission group members additionally introduced that they’re naming Perseverance’s touchdown website in Jezero Crater “Octavia E. Butler Touchdown” after the famed science fiction writer; the primary science fiction writer to obtain the MacArthur Fellowship.
In photographs: NASA’s Perseverance rover on Mars
Whereas Perseverance has the identical physique design as NASA’s Curiosity rover, which landed on Mars in 2012, enhancements to its mobility system imply that it might drive for for much longer in the identical period of time. Whereas the 2 rovers have the identical high pace, Perseverance’s new cameras and improved navigation software program enable it to consider the place it is going whereas in movement.
So, whereas Curiosity needed to primarily cease to assume, Perseverance can “stroll and chew gum on the similar time,” Zarifian mentioned. This permits the rover to cowl extra floor extra shortly, regardless of having the identical “pace.”
To arrange for this primary drive, mission group members had the rover flip its wheels in place, ensuring they have been displaying their full vary of movement and have been prepared for the brief journey. NASA shared a brief video clip on the rover’s Twitter feed of one of many rover’s wheels turning within the Martian floor as a part of this preparation.
“A fast check of my steering, and issues are trying good as I get able to roll. My group and I are eager to get transferring. One step at a time,” Perseverance team members wrote on Twitter.
A fast check of my steering, and issues are trying good as I get able to roll. My group and I are eager to get transferring. One step at a time. pic.twitter.com/XSYfT158AQMarch 5, 2021
“So hanging to see rover tracks that start from nothing. @NASAPersevere is on the transfer!” Perseverance rover operator and Earth & planetary science Ph.D. candidate Erin Gibbons mentioned on Twitter alongside a photograph of the tracks the rover made on the Martian floor.
So hanging to see rover tracks that start from nothing. @NASAPersevere is on the transfer! pic.twitter.com/zHnxXtK1uLMarch 5, 2021
This primary drive comes as Perseverance checks a handful of different Martian “firsts” off its record, which all appear to be going very properly.
“Perseverance has been doing an distinctive job in her first two weeks on the purple planet,” Robert Hogg, the rover’s deputy mission supervisor at JPL, mentioned in the course of the information briefing at this time.
Amongst these milestones are the rover’s first arm stretch — an vital first step to getting its robotic arm, a important asset for sampling and scientific statement, transferring — and the deployment of wind sensors — devices which are a part of the rover’s climate station, which is able to monitor air temperature, humidity, radiation, mud and wind.
Rover controllers additionally lately checked in with the craft’s RIMFAX (Radar Imager for Mars’ Subsurface Experiment) and MOXIE (Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment) devices. The rover has additionally continued to ship again pictures of its new, Martian setting again to Earth.
“We’re seeing every kind of textures and rocks which are round Perseverance’s touchdown website,” Perseverance deputy venture scientist Katie Stack Morgan of JPL informed House.com in the course of the briefing when requested about what mission scientists are already gleaning the rover’s pictures.
“However we’re solely simply getting our devices checked out, so these different devices are actually vital for us to place collectively a mannequin for a way these rocks type and what their significance is perhaps … we landed in a really attention-grabbing space the place we try to determine the origin of those rocks,” Morgan added.
Perseverance is the crown jewel of NASA’s Mars 2020 mission, and can spend its time on the Purple Planet looking for concrete indicators of historical life, together with gathering scientific information to do issues like examine the planet’s advanced local weather; the rover may even be finishing expertise experiments like with Ingenuity, the Mars helicopter.
E mail Chelsea Gohd at [email protected] or comply with her on Twitter @chelsea_gohd. Observe us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Fb.