NASA's Mars 2020 rover conducts its first test drive

The rover was able to successfully use its autonomous navigation system durings its preliminary test.


NSFW    PASADENA, CALIFORNIA — As part of NASA's preparation for next year's Mars mission, the Mars 2020 rover took its first driving test at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California on December 17.

The rover was able to roll forward, backward and perform a pirouette in the laboratory over a period of 10 hours, according to NASA.

The Mars 2020 rover was also able to drive over small ramps in the lab.

The rover is equipped with an autonomous navigation system, which uses high-resolution navigation cameras and image processing software. Its wheels have been redesigned for added durability.

NASA says the technology will allow to rover to drive roughly 200 meters per Martian day. The Mars 2020 rover will also carry a radar imager to gather data about Mars' surface.

The rover will be launched in July or August of 2020. It is scheduled to land on Mars' Jerozo Crater on February of 2021.

The Mars mission is part of a larger project that includes lunar missions to prepare humans to eventually explore the red planet.
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