Yesterday Perseverance finally revved itself up and took a short drive: 33 minutes. It apparently went well; as CNN reports:
The NASA Perseverance rover has taken its first drive on Mars, traveling about 21 feet and doing a little spin across Jezero Crater. And that first 33-minute test drive on Thursday went “incredibly well,” according to Anais Zarifian, Perseverance’s mobility test bed engineer.
Perseverance sent back images of its wheel tracks across the red Martian surface Friday.
This is the first of many checkouts and milestones for the rover after its successful landing on February 18. Once the mission truly begins exploring Mars, it will go on drives averaging about 656 feet or more.“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,” Zarifian said. “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.”During the first drive, the rover drove forward 13 feet, performed a 150-degree turn to the left and reversed 8 feet. The rover was able to turn its cameras to the site where it landed.
We don’t yet have video from Perseverance in the surface, and I’m not sure why that is. But of course I’m greedy; it’s just amazing that we put a wheeled vehicle on Mars that is tootling about and will soon pick up rocks and drill into the surface. What an achievement! What boggles my mind the most is that a species of primate, wresting materials from the earth alone, forged all technology to get this thing to Mars, set it down, and drive it about.