NASA’s Perseverance Rover is still the biggest thing in space right now. The latest from the little rover is that it’s finally taken its first drive on Mars’ surface. That’s one small step for a rover, but one giant leap for mankind.
Perseverance is on the move
After just over two weeks on Mars’ surface, the Perseverance rover is on the move. NASA announced that Perseverance took its first drive on March 4, covering a huge distance of 6.5 meters.
This drive was part of a mobility test for Perseverance in order to check that all its systems and instruments are calibrated correctly.
“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,” Anais Zarifian, a systems engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said.
Once the rover starts out on its science missions, longer commutes of 200 meters are expected.
Perseverance’s first drive lasted a whole 33 minutes. It began by moving forward 4 meters, then turning in place to the left and backing up another 2.5 meters to its current parking spot. So, only half a doughie but we’ll get there.
The rover was very proud of itself on Twitter. It even provided a new photo showing its tyre tracks on the surface of Mars. Now that’s making your mark.
I’m on the move! Just took my first test drive on Mars, covering about 16 feet (5 meters). You’re looking at the very beginning of my wheel tracks. Many more to make. pic.twitter.com/7tFIwWFfJ4
— NASA's Perseverance Mars Rover (@NASAPersevere) March 5, 2021
What a flex
This isn’t the only systems test the rover has undertaken recently. A software update gave Perseverance control of its robotic arm, where it literally flexed its five joints over the course of a couple of hours.
“[The robotic arm] is the main tool the science team will use to do close-up examination of the geologic features of Jezero Crater, and then we’ll 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,” said Perseverance’s deputy mission manager, Robert Hogg.
In the coming weeks, the rover will continue to dare mighty things with some longer test drives. There will also be an experimental flight of the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter during the rover’s commissioning.