PIA24723: Computer Simulation of Perseverance's First Autonav Drive
 Target Name:  Mars
 Is a satellite of:  Sol (our sun)
 Mission:  Mars 2020 Rover
 Spacecraft:  Perseverance
 Product Size:  1347 x 713 pixels (w x h)
 Produced By:  JPL
 Full-Res TIFF:  PIA24723.tif (1.822 MB)
 Full-Res JPEG:  PIA24723.jpg (117 kB)

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This computer animation shows a replay of telemetry from NASA's Perseverance Mars rover as it carried out its first drive using AutoNav, it's auto-navigation feature, which allows it to avoid rocks and other hazards without input from engineers back on Earth. The rover's progress here has been sped up by 50 times. The entire drive was roughly 102 feet (31 meters) and took 45 minutes.

The terrain is created from height maps, which is how the rover navigates surrounding terrain. The map is created incrementally from stereo imagery taken from the rover's navigation cameras. Auto-navigation software uses a height map to evaluate possible drive paths for safety. The paths are represented by arcs emanating from the front of the rover. Different-colored arcs denote different results of the hazard evaluation.

  • Blue arcs represent arcs that failed due to "wheel drop," where the terrain could allow for a wheel to fall more than a certain height.
  • Pink arcs fail the belly-pan clearance check, where the terrain is at risk of high-centering the rover.
  • Yellow arcs fail by driving onto unknown terrain.
  • Gray arcs are safe.
  • The white arc is the actual path selected by auto-navigation.

A key objective for Perseverance's mission on Mars is astrobiology, including the search for signs of ancient microbial life. 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).

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.

The Mars 2020 Perseverance mission is part of NASA's Moon to Mars exploration approach, which includes Artemis missions to the Moon that will help prepare for human exploration of the Red Planet.

JPL, which is managed for NASA by Caltech in Pasadena, California, built and manages operations of the Perseverance rover.

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