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NASA's new Mars rover hits dusty red road, 1st trip 21 feet

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NASA’s latest Mars rover has hit the dusty crimson street, taking a spin for the primary time this week

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — NASA’s latest Mars rover hit the dusty crimson street this week, placing 21 ft on the odometer in its first take a look at drive.

The Perseverance rover ventured from its touchdown place Thursday, two weeks after setting down on the crimson planet to hunt indicators of previous life.

The roundabout, forwards and backwards drive lasted simply 33 minutes and went so properly that extra driving was on faucet Friday and Saturday for the the six-wheeled rover.

“That is actually the beginning of our journey right here,” mentioned Wealthy Rieber, the NASA engineer who plotted the route. “That is going to be just like the Odyssey, adventures alongside the way in which, hopefully no Cyclops, and I’m positive there shall be tales aplenty written about it.”

In its first drive, Perseverance went ahead 13 ft (four meters), took a 150-degree left flip, then backed up eight ft (2.5 meters). Throughout a information convention Friday, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, shared pictures of its tracks over and round small rocks.

“I do not assume I’ve ever been happier to see wheel tracks and I’ve seen a whole lot of them,” mentioned engineer Anais Zarifian.

Flight controllers are nonetheless checking all of Perseverance’s techniques. Thus far, every part is trying good. The rover’s 7-foot (2-meter) robotic arm, as an example, flexed its muscular tissues for the primary time Tuesday.

Earlier than the car-size rover can head for an historical river delta to gather rocks for eventual return to Earth, it should drop its so-called protecting “stomach pan” and launch an experimental helicopter named Ingenuity.

Because it seems, Perseverance landed proper on the sting of a possible helicopter touchdown strip — a pleasant, flat spot, in accordance with Rieber. So the plan is to drive out of this touchdown strip, ditch the pan, then return for Ingenuity’s extremely anticipated take a look at flight. All this ought to be achieved by late spring.

Scientists are debating whether or not to take the smoother path to get to the close by delta or a presumably more durable manner with intriguing remnants from that once-watery time three billion to four billion years in the past.

Perseverance — NASA’s largest and most elaborate rover but — grew to become the ninth U.S. spacecraft to efficiently land on Mars on Feb. 18. China hopes to land its smaller rover — at the moment orbiting the crimson planet — in one other few months.

NASA scientists, in the meantime, introduced Friday that they’ve named Perseverance’s landing website in honor of the late science fiction author Octavia E. Butler, who grew up subsequent door to JPL in Pasadena. She was one of many first African Individuals to obtain mainstream consideration for science fiction. Her works included “Bloodchild and Different Tales” and “Parable of the Sower.”

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The Related Press Well being and Science Division receives help from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Division of Science Schooling. The AP is solely accountable for all content material.

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