Mars rover Perseverance takes a test drive on the red planet

WION Web Team
New DelhiUpdated: Mar 06, 2021, 03:15 PM IST


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NASA engineers said they were studying possible routes for rover for longer voyages on Mars

NASA said on Friday that it took Mars rover Perseverance 'out for a spin' for a test drive on the red planet. This was the rover's first test drive and it was successful. The six-wheeled rover travelled about 6.5 meters (21.3 feet) in 33 minutes on Thursday, NASA said.

It drove four meters forward, turned in place 150 degrees to the left, and then backed up 2.5 meters, leaving tire tracks in the Martian dust.

"This was our first chance to 'kick the tires' and take Perseverance out for a spin," said Anais Zarifian, Perseverance mobility test bed engineer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

Zarifian said the test drive went "incredibly well" and represented a "huge milestone for the mission and the mobility team."

"We're going to do some longer drives," she added. "This is just the beginning."

NASA engineers said they were studying possible routes for rover for longer voyages on Mars. 

The rover can cover 200 meters per Martian day, which is slightly longer than a day on Earth.

And it goes five times faster than Curiosity, its predecessor, which is still functioning eight years after landing on Mars.

Perseverance deputy mission manager Robert Hogg said engineers were also preparing for the first flight of a helicopter drone carried by the rover.

Hogg said the rover team was working out flight zones and hoped to conduct the first flight in late spring or early summer.

He said the mission had not experienced any major problems so far. 

"It's all just minor stuff," he said. "Everything we've tried has worked beautifully."

Perseverance was launched on July 30, 2020 and landed on the surface of Mars on February 18 on a mission to search for signs of past life on the Red Planet.

The rover's primary mission will last just over two years but it is likely to remain operational well beyond that.

(With AFP inputs)