As we follow the Mars 2020 Perseverance mission I’ll provide weekly updates on what’s been going with the mission. This update covers science and updates and what Perseverance is performing up through March 9, 2021.
- Percy performed a test drive which included driving forward, backing up to reposition, and continued movements so Percy could image the spot where she landed. This will provide further information to the landing specialists which might be used on future missions. Percy moved a total of about 21 feet and the six wheeled rover responded “superbly”.
- Software updates, including replacing the landing program with programs to investigate the planet.
- The controllers checked the following subsystems: Radar Image for Subsurface Experiment (RIMFAX), Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment (MOXIE), and the Mars Environmental Dynamics Analyzer (MEDA) which will extend two sensors to measure wind speeds.
- The 7 foot robotic arm was fully extended and all 5 joints were tested. This will be the main science tool for close-up examinations of geologic features and for conducting the drilling and sampling.
- Testing and calibration of science instruments, sending the rover on longer drives, jettisoning covers that shield other science instruments, and the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter are currently or will be tested in the coming days and weeks.
- Throughout all of these functions Percy takes pictures and other images, 7000+ sent so far, to confirm proper operation. The most advanced suite of camera’s ever sent to Mars are also being put through their paces.
- Touchdown site named for Octavia E. Butler, an African American science fiction writer who is a multiple recipient of the Hugo and Nebula awards, first science fiction writer to receive a MacArthur Fellowship and who resided in Pasadena, California, where NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) resides.
One of the big ticket items NASA and their engineers want to test is the Mars helicopter Ingenuity. Ingenuity has already sent it’s first status report and all looks green. Ingenuity will stay connected to the underbelly of Perseverance for 30-60 days. There’s much science to perform and a lot of initial groundwork and systems programming continues to be performed before Ingenuity is release for it’s first flight test. Right now testing and charging of the batteries on Ingenuity will be monitored throughout the coming days and weeks.
That’s it for this update. For comprehensive information on the Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover mission visit NASA.gov and peruse the missions link at the top of the home page.