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NASA’s Perseverance Rover Takes First Test Drive on Mars

It drove 4 m forward, rotated 150 degrees to the left, and backed up 2.5 m, leaving tire tracks in the Martian dust.

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“Our first drive went incredibly well,” NASA’s Anais Zarifian.
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On Friday, 5 March, NASA announced the first successful test drive on the Red Planet by its Perseverance Rover, that landed on 18 February.

It drove 4 metres forward, rotated 150 degrees to the left, and backed up 2.5 metres, making the tire tracks visible in the Martian dust.

“Our first drive went incredibly well,” NASA’s Anais Zarifian, a Perseverance mobility test bed engineer at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California. He added that the rover “works beautifully, we were so excited.”

NASA’s JPL built and manages operations of the Perseverance rover. Since its landing on 18 February, the rover has been attuning its instruments and gearing up for further travels to the ancient river delta. Unlike with past rovers, the majority of Perseverance’s cameras capture images in colour, including a selfie.

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“We’re going to do some longer drives,” Zarifian said, adding, "This is really just the beginning." Perseverance’s landing site in Jezero Crater was named, “Octavia E. Butler landing” in honour of the late sci-fi author.

Perseverance deputy mission manager Robert Hogg also said that they were preparing for the first flight of their helicopter drone, Ingenuity, carried by the rover. They hope to conduct the first flight in late spring or early summer.

Illustration depicts Mars Helicopter Ingenuity during a test flight on Mars.
Illustration depicts Mars Helicopter Ingenuity during a test flight on Mars.
(Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

(With inputs from Space.com.)

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