NASA announced on Thursday that NASA’s latest six-wheeled robot Perseverance rover on Mars is embarking on an epic journey through the bottom of the crater to find traces of ancient life. NASA said in a statement that the rover team is very interested in planning navigation routes, writing broadcast instructions, and even wearing special 3D glasses to determine the route.
But as time progress, the rover takes more and more control of the vehicle with the help of a powerful automatic navigation system. This advanced system, called AutoNav, can create a 3D map of the terrain ahead, identify hazards and plan routes around obstacles without the need for further instructions from a controller on the earth.
This feature, combined with other improvements, allows Perseverance to reach a maximum speed of 393 feet (120 meters) per hour; scientists added that with an older version of AutoNav, its predecessor “Curiosity” is climbing Mount Sharp in the southeast. It will travel at a speed of 20 meters per hour.
This crater used to be a lake billions of years ago when Mars was wetter than it is today. Perseverance’s destination was the dry river delta on the edge of the crater. The rover will collect samples from a distance of approximately 15 kilometers, prepare for future missions, and bring them back to Earth for analysis.
Of course, Perseverance cannot handle AutoNav alone. The participation of the rover team remains essential for planning and executing a persistent route. The entire team of experts combines the deployment plan of the off-road vehicle to develop a navigation route, whether you are investigating geologically interesting objects on the way to your destination or collecting samples in the near future.
Due to the radio signal delay between the Earth and Mars, they cannot simply move the rover forward with a joystick, but carefully check the satellite images, sometimes wearing 3D glasses to view the surface of Mars close to the rover. The team exits, sends instructions to Mars, and the rover executes these instructions the next day.
The Perseverance wheels have also been redesigned to speed up these plans: not only are they slightly larger and narrower in diameter than the Curiosity wheels, but they also have 48 tracks that look a bit like wavy lines instead of 24 Curiosity chevrons. The goal is to improve grip and durability. Team members stated that they want AutoNav to be “behind the wheel”. But they are also prepared to intervene if necessary.