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Thursday, December 9, 2021

NASA’s Perseverance Drives On Mars’ Surface For The First Time

The land rover from NASA took its first step on Mars on March 4. The drive covers approximately 21.3 feet of the Mars’ landscape. This was the first drive of NASA’s Perseverance on the Martian surface. 

NASA’s Perseverance Drives On Mars’ Surface For The First Time

According to an official statement given on Friday, the 21.3 feet long walk by the land rover was one of the many milestones to be carried out by the Perseverance. The mobility test was conducted to check out and calibrate the subsystems and systems and every instrument present on Perseverance. 

NASA’s Perseverance Drives On Mars’ Surface For The First Time

The exact location where the land rover, Perseverance, started its mission on the Martian surface is named as “Octavia E. Butler landing”. The location was named after a science fiction writer named Octavia E. Butler.

NASA officials said that once the land rover starts with its science goals at the surface, it is expected that regular commutes of the rover can go about 656 feet or more. 

They also said that in terms of wheeled vehicles on other planets, only few-time events are available that are significant enough for a first-time drive. 

Anais Zarifian who is the mobility testbed engineer at the Jet propulsion laboratory in NASA and currently working on the land rover Perseverance said that this was the first time they decided to take Perseverance out for a spin. He added that the 6-wheel rover was successful in its first drive on the planet. This has built up confidence in the team that the rover and its drive system is good to go. The rover is capable of taking the team wherever the science will lead it to. For the nest two years, they can count on Perseverance for the scientific exploration of the Martian surface.

The 21.3 feet long drive lasted for about 33 minutes. The rover was propelled forward for about 13 feet, then it turned 150 degrees to left at the spot, then backed about 8 feet.  This marked the new but temporarily parking space for the rover.

The retrorocket landing was observed and studied at the time when Perseverance touched down the Martian surface, that disperses the Martian dust due to the engine on the rover. The navigation and hazard avoidance cameras fitted on Perseverance were used to spot down the landing of the rover on the Martian surface.

Not only the driving ability was checked, but many other things were also tested for as per the official statement.

Earlier on February 16, a software update was completed on Perseverance by the mission controller team. This replaced the program that helped the rover to touch the Mars surface in a successful landing. The new program will now help to investigate the landscape. This was done on the eighth day since the rover landed on Mars.

Recently, Perseverance RADAR images were also checked for subsurface experiments. Instruments for the Mars’ Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization were investigated. Mars Environmental Dynamics Analyzer was also deployed. 

Earlier on March 2, Perseverance robotic arm was successfully unstowed for the first time. The arm is about 7 feet in length. It was allowed to flex its five joints for about two hours.

According to Robert Hogg, deputy mission manager for NASA’s Perseverance mission, said that the arm flexing was a major milestone for the team. The robotic arm is the one which is going to be used for close-up examination of the Martian geological features. The successful arm flexing moment by the land rover has made their day.

The Mars 2020 Perseverance rover by NASA was sent to the Martian surface to study astrobiology and also to detect any signs of ancient microbial life on the red planet. 

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