In 2019, the rover that the US Space Agency plans to send to the Red Planet on the Mars 2020 mission gained legs and wheels, an arm to a helicopter. After training the moves for the future exploration trip, the robotic vehicle passed its first driving test at the Jet Propulsion Lab Laboratory in Passadena, California.
According to NASA, the automaton successfully succeeded in successfully passing the various tests presented to it by “driving” during a genuine 10-hour marathon. "The test unequivocally proves that the rover can operate under its own weight by demonstrating many of its autonomous navigation features for the first time," said Rich Rieber, NASA Mobility Systems Engineer, quoted in statement. "This is a milestone for the Mars 2020 mission."
Since the vehicle's systems have been able to perform their functions under ground conditions, experts predict that the future "driving test" on Mars will also be successful, given that its gravity is much stronger than terrestrial. . To carry out its mission the rover will have to go a long way: exactly 200 meters per day Martian.
NASA says the rover is fully equipped to make more decisions than its predecessors. Among its many features are high-resolution cameras with a wide field of view, a computer for processing images and generating maps, as well as auto-navigation software.
The next time the rover will practice its driving skills will be on the Red Planet. NASA's Mars 2020 rover is scheduled for launch next July at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida and, if all goes well, will land at the Jezero crater in February 2021. The autonomous vehicle will take samples, it will characterize the climate and Martian geology and even look for signs of microbial organisms, all to pave the way for future human missions to the planet.