Perseverance (Percy) and her ground team are going from strength to strength since her successful landing on Mars.
So far, all tests have been nominal, and in some cases, she’s performing better on the Red Planet than she did at home.
The rover has been hard at work from the moment she touched down, sending back increasingly high definition images.
The first 360-degree panorama taken by Percy’s Mastcam-Z was stitched together on Earth from 142 individual images and released on February 21, 2021.
Last week, NASA released the first high-resolution panorama, stitched together using 79 images.
A YouTube user edited it into a 4K video that slowly pans across Jezero’s horizon:
According to The Verge, Percy also took her first short drive in the Jezero Crater. Her mobility testbed engineer, Anais Zarifian, says that it went “incredibly well” and that she performed better than she did during pre-launch tests on Earth.
Percy drove straight for 13 feet before turning around to back up 8 feet.
“I don’t think I’ve ever been happier to see wheel tracks — and I’ve seen a lot of them,” she says.
“This is just a huge milestone for the mission and the mobility team. We’ve driven on Earth, but driving on Mars is really the ultimate goal.”
You can see her tracks on the surface of the planet.
Although the drive was short, it’s confirmation that Percy is up to the task of travelling some 656 feet over the next two years to analyse rocks and scoop up Martian soil samples for a future return mission.
Landing a wheeled robot on Mars isn’t about speed. With an improved computer for avoiding obstacles and sand pits, “we’ll have less time planning drives and down time, and more time to do science,” Zarifian says.
She can only travel at around 1km/h, which isn’t very quick, but she’s on an alien planet so let’s cut her some slack.
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