KATHMANDU, MARCH 06
Perseverance, NASA's Mars rover, has passed the mobility test and not only that, its performance has been superb, according to the space agency.
"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 test bed 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."
In the press release issued on March 6, NASA shared that the rover had performed its first drive on Mars on March 4. It rode a distance of 21.3 feet (6.5 metres) across the Martian landscape.
The drive served as a mobility test where the team members check out and calibrate every system, subsystem, and instrument on Perseverance and ensures it will perform fine at its regular commutes extending 656 feet (200 meters) or more.
Other than this milestone test, the rover has went through several other checkouts. On the eighth Martian daFeb 26 here, 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. Another significant milestone occurred on March 2, when engineers unstowed the rover's 7-foot-long (2-metre-long) robotic arm for the first time, flexing each of its five joints over the course of two hours.
In coming future, Perseverance will go through further tests including more detailed testing and calibration of science instruments, sending the rover on longer drives, and jettisoning covers that shield both the adaptive caching assembly and the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter during landing.
The interesting experimental flight test program for the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter is also set to take place during the rover's commissioning.
All these are being captured or will be captured by the rover's cameras. It has already sent about 7,000 images so far.
So as Perseverance has now moved from its landing site, mission team scientists have memorised the spot and informally named that site after late science fiction author Octavia E. Butler. The groundbreaking author from Pasadena, Califora was the first African American woman to win both the Hugo Award and Nebula Award, and she was the first science fiction writer honored with a MacArthur Fellowship.
The location where Perseverance began its mission on Mars now bears the name "Octavia E. Butler Landing."