“The time where a rover science team could look at features on the Martian horizon and file them away for future consideration is over,” said Ken Farley, Perseverance project scientist at Caltech in Pasadena. “We have to be on our toes because Perseverance’s autonomous capabilities can make something we see in the distance on one sol right in front – or even behind us – on the next.”
With the new exploration possibilities come new challenges: broken bedrock, higher slopes, and sand dunes, as well as small impact craters in Perseverance’s near future.
“This new terrain is definitely going to throw a few curveballs at us and AutoNav,” said Mark Maimone, deputy team chief for robotic operations on Perseverance. “But that is where the science is. We’re ready.”
More About the Mission
A key objective for Perseverance’s mission on Mars is astrobiology, including the search for signs of ancient microbial life. The rover will characterize the planet’s geology and past climate, pave the way for human exploration of the Red Planet, and be the first mission to collect and cache Martian rock and regolith (broken rock and dust).
Subsequent NASA missions, in cooperation with ESA (European Space Agency), would send spacecraft to Mars to collect these sealed samples from the surface and return them to Earth for in-depth analysis.
The Mars 2020 Perseverance mission is part of NASA’s Moon to Mars exploration approach, which includes Artemis missions to the Moon that will help prepare for human exploration of the Red Planet.
JPL, which is managed for NASA by Caltech in Pasadena, California, built and manages operations of the Perseverance rover.
For more about Perseverance: