NASA’s Perseverance drives on Mars for first time

Photo: NASA

NASA's Perseverance Mars rover has taken its first drive on the Red Planet on 4 March, moving 6.5 metres in 33 minutes, the US space agency announced on Friday. "The rover's six-wheel drive responded superbly," NASA engineer Anais Zarifian said, cited by dpa.

The short trip on Thursday was a mobility test as checks are carried out into the rover's systems. NASA aims to have Perseverance take trips of 200 metres or more once it starts its scientific exploration.

The rover moved forward 4 metres, turned in place to the left and then backed up around 2.5 metres to park temporarily.

The rover, which weighs around 1,000 kilograms and is the size of a small car, touched down on Mars in a risky landing manoeuvre on 18 February after a roughly 480-million-kilometre journey through space.

Perseverance is expected to study the Mars surface for at least two years as it examines the climate and geology and collects rock and soil samples.

On Tuesday the mission tested Perseverance's robotic arm, which will be the main tool used for close-up examination of the crater's geological features. It will then drill down and take away samples.

Last week, the rover sent its first 360-degree photo from the planet's surface, showing a desolate region with geological formations, including a wind-carved rock and the rim of the ancient crater.

NASA hopes the rover project, which cost more than 2 billion dollars, will help pave the way for human exploration of the Red Plane, dpa noted.

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