NASA’s Perseverance rover is transferring throughout the floor of Mars quicker than any rover earlier than. In February the rover broke a 17-year-old report for the longest drive by a rover in a single Martian day, however now it’s persevering with to hurry alongside towards its new goal, the Jezero crater delta.
“Its precise pace is slightly below a tenth of a mile per hour, but it surely’s quicker than its predecessors,” wrote Roger Wiens of Los Alamos Nationwide Laboratory, principal investigator for Perseverance’s SuperCam instrument and co-investigator to its SHERLOC instrument, in a current weblog submit in regards to the rover’s progress. “It’s making comparatively speedy progress by devoting a number of hours per day to driving on very easy terrain.”
It’s the cumulative every day progress that issues most to the rover’s long-term science mission, much more than touring lengthy distances on particular person days, Wiens writes: “Total, it’s not simply the single-day drive that issues; it’s tougher to place collectively a steady marketing campaign. That requires sufficient power, sufficient time within the day, and sufficient knowledge quantity to Earth to help next-day drive selections.”
It’s because the science and engineering groups want to have a look at the info coming from the rover to make selections about the place to ship it subsequent. The excellent news is that “Perseverance appears to have all of that, permitting our staff to place collectively a sustained marketing campaign that has met and exceeded expectations. In a single week it has traveled about 1.5 km, successfully a fee of 1 mile per week.”
Perseverance has traveled a complete of greater than 4 miles because it landed within the Jezero crater in February final yr. You possibly can see the rover’s full progress to date on NASA’s Perseverance location map, which additionally exhibits the present location of the Ingenuity helicopter which traveled together with Perseverance to Mars.
There’s nonetheless plenty of science left for Perseverance to do, however to date the indicators are trying good for the rover to have an extended and wholesome marketing campaign. In terms of the pace of its progress, it’s already exceeding estimations.
Relating to the rover’s progress to date, “I need to admit that I used to be far more pessimistic,” Weins wrote. “Over time I’ve seen many surprising conditions that bedeviled planetary rovers, so I are inclined to count on the surprising, having a ‘wait-and-see’ angle towards new achievements. So I’m actually excited to see Perseverance pull off this speedy drive marketing campaign.”