After spending its first three months on the surface of Mars performing systems checks, the NASA Perseverance rover is starting the experiments that are part of its stated mission: to investigate the potential that life once existed, or currently exists, on the Red Planet.
According to Space.com, NASA engineers signed off on the functions of the rover and the Ingenuity helicopter after scores of mobility, communications, technical and instrument tests.
“Over the next several months, Perseverance will be exploring a 1.5-square-mile [4-square-kilometer] patch of crater floor,” Trosper said. “It is from this location that the first samples from another planet will be collected for return to Earth by a future mission.”
Perseverance, a rover the size of a car, will use soil testing equipment and spectrometry to identify past or existing surface water, biological markers or even fossils on the Mars surface. The rover will travel a pre-determined path, but mission managers may alter that route based on discoveries made along the way by rover or the copter.