Nasa: The new Mars rover passes its driving test

He drives: The Rover Mars 2020 was driven for the first time in the Jet Propulsion Laboratory of the US space agency National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa). The autonomous research vehicle is scheduled to fly to Mars in the summer.

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The rover drove forwards and backwards in the test, and it did pirouettes, said Nasa. He had passed all the necessary exams. The next time he would go to Mars again.

"Mars 2020 earned its driver's license"Rich Rieber of the Mars 2020 team commented. The rover has shown that it can operate under its own weight. In addition, many of the autonomous navigation functions have been successfully tested. The test, which Nasa has only just made public, already took place in mid-December.

The rover is largely identical to the rover Curiosity, which has been on Mars since 2012. A number of parts had been produced twice and could be used for another rover.

Unlike its predecessor, Mars 2020 should be less dependent on Earth control and more autonomous. That should speed up his work on Mars. In addition, the rover will take a companion to the neighboring planet: a drone that is supposed to explore the planet in flight.

One of the main objectives of the mission is to find life on Mars. In addition, the rover should collect soil samples on the planet and store them in sample canisters. In a later mission, scheduled for the mid-2020s, a rover from the European Space Agency (Esa) will collect the canisters so that they can be brought to Earth.

To do this, Mars will have to travel long distances in 2020. "A rover has to drive around, and Mars 2020 did that". said John McNamee, Project manager of Mars 2020. "We can hardly wait until he gets some red Martian soil under his wheels."

The mission is scheduled to start in July. In mid-February 2021, the rover and drone are due to land on Mars. NASA selected the crater Jezero as the landing site. There, the rover is supposed to examine an old river delta, among other things.

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