From NASA Perseverance rover completed its first test drive since landing on the surface of Mars on February 18. On March 4, he took a short 33-minute ride that saw him travel 6.5 meters in and around his landing site, the agency announced Friday. This milestone is the first of many technical tests Perseverance must complete before it begins looking for signs of ancient microbial life in Jezero Crater, which once housed an ancient lake.
A quick test of my steering, and things are going well as I get ready to ride. My team and I can’t wait to get moving. One step after another. pic.twitter.com/XSYfT158AQ
– NASA’s Mars Rover Perseverance (@NASAPersevere) March 5, 2021
“This was our first chance to ‘kick the tires’ and run Perseverance,” said Anais Zarifian, mobility test bench engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab. “The rover’s six-wheel drive has responded perfectly. We are now confident that our training system is ready to go, capable of taking us where science takes us over the next two years.
A test drive isn’t the only thing Perseverance has done since landing on Mars. On February 26, NASA updated the Perseverance software, replacing the program that had helped him land on Mars with a new one that will help him explore the planet instead. More recently, the agency first tested the rover’s 7-foot-long robotic arm. Going forward, the plan is to calibrate its other instruments, send it on longer drives, and most importantly, pilot the Ingenuity for the first time.