NASA's perseverance rover drives on Mars for first time

DY365
DY365
Published: March 6,2021 08:08 AM
DY365

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March 6, 2021: US Space agency NASA's Perseverance rover took its first drive on Mars and covered 21.3 feet (6.5 meters) across the Martian landscape.

March 6, 2021: US Space agency NASA's Perseverance rover took its first drive on Mars and covered 21.3 feet (6.5 meters) across the Martian landscape.



The drive performed on March 4, 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, an officials statement said on Friday.



However, the location where Perseverance began its mission on Mars now bears the name "Octavia E. Butler Landing," after the mane of a science fiction author - Octavia E. Butler.



According to the statement, 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." the engineer said.



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.



As per the statement, the rover's mobility system is not the only thing getting a test drive during this period of initial checkouts.



On February 16, Perseverance's eighth Martian day, or sol, since landing - mission controllers completed a software update, replacing the computer program that helped land Perseverance with one they will rely on to investigate the planet.



More recently, the controllers checked out Perseverance's Radar Imager for Mars' Subsurface Experiment (RIMFAX) and Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment (MOXIE) instruments, and deployed the Mars Environmental Dynamics Analyzer (MEDA) instrument's two wind sensors, which extend out from the rover's mast.



While another significant milestone occurred on March 2, or sol 12, when engineers unstowed the rover's 7-foot-long (2-meter-long) robotic arm for the first time, flexing each of its five joints over the course of two hours.



"Tuesday's first test of the robotic arm was a big moment for us," said Robert Hogg, Mars 2020 Perseverance rover deputy mission manager.



"That's the main tool the science team will use to do close-up examination of the geologic features of Jezero Crater, and then we will drill and sample the ones they find the most interesting. When we got confirmation of the robotic arm flexing its muscles, including images of it working beautifully after its long trip to Mars - well, it made my day," he added.



The aim of the mission is astrobiology, including the search for signs of ancient microbial life, the release said.