Nasa’s Perseverance Rover Takes Its First Drive On Mars
Pictures downloaded to Earth on Friday indicate the excursion was a short roll and turn.
It’s two weeks now since the one-tonne robot landed on the Red Planet.
Engineers have spent the time commissioning the vehicle and its many systems, including its instruments and robotic arm.
Perseverance’s mission is to explore a near-equatorial crater called Jezero, to search for evidence of past life.
This will involve roving some 15km over the coming Martian year (roughly two Earth years).
Scientists want to reach a number of enticing rock formations in the crater that might retain a record of ancient biological activity.
Among these is what looks in satellite imagery to be a delta – a structure built up from the silt and sand dumped by a river as it enters a wider body of water. In Jezero’s case, this wider body was very likely a crater-wide lake that existed billions of years ago.
But before Perseverance can get down to this work, it has an experiment to run. The robot is going to fly a small helicopter brought from Earth.