NASA’s Perseverance rover has taken its first test drive on Mars, the company introduced Friday (March 5).
Perseverance, a car-sized rover that landed efficiently on the Red Planet Feb. 18, simply made its first quick drive on Thursday, NASA officers mentioned. The rover moved a complete of 21.3 toes (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 prime velocity of .01 miles per hour (.016 kilometers).
“Our first drive went incredibly well,” NASA’s Anais Zarifian, a Perseverance mobility test mattress engineer on the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. Zarifian added that the rover “works beautifully, we were so excited.”
“This is really just the beginning,” Zarifian mentioned.
During the briefing, mission crew members additionally introduced that they’re naming Perseverance’s touchdown website in Jezero Crater “Octavia E. Butler Landing” after the famed science fiction writer; the first science fiction writer to obtain the MacArthur Fellowship.
In pictures: NASA’s Perseverance rover on Mars
While 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 could drive for for much longer in the identical period of time. While the 2 rovers have the identical prime velocity, Perseverance’s new cameras and improved navigation software program permit it to consider the place it is going whereas in movement.
So, whereas Curiosity needed to basically cease to assume, Perseverance can “walk and chew gum at the same time,” Zarifian mentioned. This permits the rover to cowl extra floor extra rapidly, regardless of having the identical “speed.”
To put together for this first drive, mission crew members had the rover flip its wheels in place, ensuring they had been displaying their full vary of movement and had been prepared for the quick 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 quick test of my steering, and things are looking good as I get ready to roll. My team and I are keen to get moving. One step at a time,” Perseverance team members wrote on Twitter.
A fast test of my steering, and issues are wanting good as I get able to roll. My crew and I are eager to get shifting. One step at a time. pic.twitter.com/XSYfT158AQMarch 5, 2021
“So striking to see rover tracks that begin from nothing. @NASAPersevere is on the move!” 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 placing to see rover tracks that start from nothing. @NASAPersevere is on the transfer! pic.twitter.com/zHnxXtK1uLMarch 5, 2021
This first drive comes as Perseverance checks a handful of different Martian “firsts” off its checklist, which all appear to be going very nicely.
“Perseverance has been doing an exceptional job in her first two weeks on the red planet,” Robert Hogg, the rover’s deputy mission supervisor at JPL, mentioned throughout the news briefing right now.
Among these milestones are the rover’s first arm stretch — an essential first step to getting its robotic arm, a crucial asset for sampling and scientific statement, shifting — and the deployment of wind sensors — devices which can be a part of the rover’s climate station, which is able to monitor air temperature, humidity, radiation, mud and wind.
Rover controllers additionally just 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 photos of its new, Martian setting again to Earth.
“We are seeing all kinds of textures and rocks that are around Perseverance’s landing site,” Perseverance deputy mission scientist Katie Stack Morgan of JPL advised Space.com throughout the briefing when requested about what mission scientists are already gleaning the rover’s photos.
“But we are only just getting our instruments checked out, so these other instruments are really important for us to put together a model for how these rocks form and what their significance might be … we landed in a very interesting area where we are trying to figure out the origin of these rocks,” Morgan added.
Perseverance is the crown jewel of NASA’s Mars 2020 mission, and can spend its time on the Red Planet looking for concrete indicators of historic life, together with accumulating scientific information to do issues like examine the planet’s advanced local weather; the rover can even be finishing know-how experiments like with Ingenuity, the Mars helicopter.
Email Chelsea Gohd at firstname.lastname@example.org or comply with her on Twitter @chelsea_gohd. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.