A new time-lapse released by NASA shows its Perseverance rover speeding across the surface of Mars.
To be clear, persistence doesn’t move really fast. The rover’s top speed on flat, hard ground is just 4.2 inches per second or 152 meters per hour – a little less than 0.1 miles per hour.
To create the fast motion effect, NASA sped up the time-lapse (below) about 200 times with about 30 seconds between each frame.
The resulting footage provides a clearer idea of how the rover negotiates the Martian terrain, its built-in sensors and software expertly steering the autonomous vehicle around rocky spots on the planet’s surface.
The sun conjunction is over and I’m ready to get started again. Nothing like the feeling of Mars under your wheels.
– NASA Persistence Mars Rover (@NASAPersevere) October 19, 2021
NASA released the video to mark the resumption of Mars operations after the space agency severed contact with Perseverance and its other Mars-based machines earlier this month.
The planned downtime was triggered by a phenomenon known as solar conjunction, when the orbits of Earth and Mars place the two planets on opposite sides of the sun. A situation like this can disrupt commands that NASA sends to their Mars-based kit, and so engineers overseeing the mission can shut down tools until normal communications can resume.
The time-lapse shows how the six-wheeled Perseverance rover with its automatic navigation technology – also known as AutoNav – covers a distance of 548 feet (167 meters).
“AutoNav enables the rover to autonomously re-plan its route around rocks or other obstacles on its way to a predetermined destination,” NASA explained in a post on his website.
The first meters of a Perseverance driving expedition are based on orders from NASA’s rover operators. This allows Perseverance to create a 3D map of the terrain below and around it, allowing the rover’s AutoNav feature to assess the safety of the routes available on the way to its destination.
“Once AutoNav takes over, the rover autonomously chooses a path to reach its intended destination and continuously maps around itself to get a 30-meter by 30-meter map centered on the rover,” NASA said .
Perseverance is NASA’s most advanced Mars rover to date and is packed with scientific tools, including a variety of cameras for a range of tasks.
The rover spectacularly arrived on Mars in February after a six-month journey from Earth. One of the main objectives of the mission is to find evidence of ancient life on the distant planet. To this end, Perseverance is exploring different parts of the Jezero Crater, a parched lake floor that scientists believe could harbor such evidence.
Recent work for Perseverance has included drilling and collecting rock samples for return to Earth, where scientists can use specialized equipment to perform more advanced analyzes.
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