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 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 pace of .01 miles per hour (.016 kilometers).
“Our first drive went extremely properly,” NASA’s Anais Zarifian, a Perseverance mobility take a look at mattress engineer on the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. Zarifian added that the rover “works fantastically, we have been so excited.”
“That is actually only the start,” Zarifian mentioned.
Throughout the briefing, mission staff members additionally introduced that they’re naming Perseverance’s touchdown web site in Jezero Crater “Octavia E. Butler Touchdown” after the famed science fiction writer; the primary science fiction writer to obtain the MacArthur Fellowship.
In pictures: 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 prime pace, 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 “stroll and chew gum on the similar time,” Zarifian mentioned. This enables the rover to cowl extra floor extra rapidly, regardless of having the identical “pace.”
To arrange for this primary drive, mission staff 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 take a look at of my steering, and issues are wanting good as I get able to roll. My staff and I are eager to get shifting. One step at a time,” Perseverance team members wrote on Twitter.
A fast take a look at of my steering, and issues are wanting good as I get able to roll. My staff and I are eager to get shifting. One step at a time. pic.twitter.com/XSYfT158AQMarch 5, 2021
“So putting 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 putting 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 checklist, which all appear to be going very properly.
“Perseverance has been doing an distinctive job in her first two weeks on the pink planet,” Robert Hogg, the rover’s deputy mission supervisor at JPL, mentioned in the course of the information briefing at the moment.
Amongst these milestones are the rover’s first arm stretch — an essential first step to getting its robotic arm, a important asset for sampling and scientific commentary, shifting — and the deployment of wind sensors — devices which might be a part of the rover’s climate station, which is able to monitor air temperature, humidity, radiation, mud and wind.
Rover controllers additionally not too long ago 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 atmosphere again to Earth.
“We’re seeing all types of textures and rocks which might be round Perseverance’s touchdown web site,” Perseverance deputy mission scientist Katie Stack Morgan of JPL advised 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 essential for us to place collectively a mannequin for a way these rocks type and what their significance could be … 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 amassing scientific knowledge to do issues like examine the planet’s complicated local weather; the rover may also be finishing expertise experiments like with Ingenuity, the Mars helicopter.
E-mail Chelsea Gohd at email@example.com or comply with her on Twitter @chelsea_gohd. Observe us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Fb.