For SpaceUpClose.com & RocketSTEM
CAPE CANAVERAL, FL – NASA’s Perseverance rover extended and flexed her high-tech robotic arm for the first time Monday, March 8 on Sol 17 while commanding it to perform multiple maneuvers with the arm and science instrument turret raised high and outward to begin check out and test its functionality which will be critical for coring soil and rock samples in search of signs of life, starting soon for eventual return in Earth.
Shortly after the new raw images arrived back on Earth I created a new Up Close mosaic view of the raised robotic arm and hand-like turret composed of Perseverance Sol 17 imagery stitched from four left side navigation camera (Navcam) black and white raw images, which I then colorized in the view seen above.
The 7-foot-long (2.1-meter) robotic arm and science instrument turret was maneuvered up, down and sideways through all five degrees of freedom by the robots engineering and science team – all while capturing dramatic imagery backdropped by spectacular views of the Red Planets landscape inside Jezero Crater where she touched down just over 2 weeks on Feb 18, 2021.
The team will continue checking out the science instruments for the next few weeks while also searching for a safe drop zone for the ‘Ingenuity’ Mars helicopter bolted to the robots belly.
“Flexing my robotic arm and doing some more checkouts of my tools. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be focused on finishing health checks of arm instruments, and then dropping off the helicopter so it can get ready for its demo flight,” Perseverance tweeted along with a stunning video of the arm movements.
Flexing my robotic arm and doing some more checkouts of my tools. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be focused on finishing health checks of arm instruments, and then dropping off the helicopter so it can get ready for its demo flight.
— NASA's Perseverance Mars Rover (@NASAPersevere) March 9, 2021
This wide angle right side navcam view shows the robotic arm extended and attached to the rover deck on Sol 17.
The arm/turret mosaic is a follow up to the rover shadow selfie mosaic I created this past weekend.
The arm flexing took place shortly after performing her first test drive on Martian terrain, and after the six wheeled robot captured a unique pair of images I’m naming the ‘Shadow of a Martian Robot – Perseverance’ on Sol 15, Saturday, March 6 and which I have stitched into a beautiful shadow selfie mosaic that transports us to Jezero Crater on Mars – see mosaic below and in my prior story.
My Perseverance rover shadow selfie mosaic was featured today at the Space.com space news website – here.
Shadow of a Martian Robot – Perseverance. This mosaic was stitched from two color raw images taken by the front left hazcam on Sol 15, March 6, 2021 after a short drive from the “Octavia E. Butler Landing” landing site where Perseverance touched down on Feb. 18, 2021 in Jezero Crater on Mars. Credit: NASA/JPL/Ken Kremer/Space UpClose
To date Perseverance has driven over 230 feet and trailing fresh and superb wheel tracks in her wake.
“I’ve continued driving to scout a spot where I’ll drop off the Mars Helicopter, if the area gets certified as a flight zone. So far, about 230 feet (70 meters) of wheel tracks behind me,” Perseverance tweeted along with a spectacular view of wheel track on Mars.
I’ve continued driving to scout a spot where I’ll drop off the Mars Helicopter, if the area gets certified as a flight zone. So far, about 230 feet (70 meters) of wheel tracks behind me.
— NASA's Perseverance Mars Rover (@NASAPersevere) March 8, 2021
The key objective of Perseverance is to carry out an astrobiology mission in search for signs of ancient microbial life in the rocks and soil that may contain preserved biosignatures of microbial organisms in the dried out river delta at Jezero Crater where liquid water once flowed more than 3 billion years ago.
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).
The prime rock targets are stromatolites which consist of sedimentary layers on fossilized mats of microorganisms deposited billions of years ago.
Perseverance counts as first leg of a truly ground breaking astrobiology expedition aimed at collecting and caching dozens of pristine soil and rock samples that will be returned to Earth a decade from now in search of tell-tale signs of past life and eventually pave the way for human exploration of the Red Planet in the late 2030s.
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.
Watch our live and complete ‘Stay Curious’ with live Perseverance landing commentary Feb 18, 2021 as well as earlier programs on Mars Mania on Feb 12.
Watch Ken’s continuing reports about Mars 2020 Perseverance and Curiosity rovers, Artemis and NASA missions, SpaceX, Starlink, Commercial Crew and Starliner and Crew Dragon and onsite for live reporting of upcoming and recent SpaceX and ULA launches including Crew 1 & 2, Demo-2, ISS, X-37B, Solar Orbiter, NRO spysats and national security missions and more at the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.
Stay tuned here for Ken’s continuing Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news: www.kenkremer.com –www.spaceupclose.com – twitter @ken_kremer – email: ken at kenkremer.com
Dr. Kremer is a research scientist and journalist based in the KSC area, active in outreach and interviewed regularly on TV and radio about space topics.
Ken’s photos are for sale and he is available for lectures and outreach events
Ken has created hundreds of widely published Mars rover mosaics and lectures also about NASA’s Mars rovers
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