NASA’s new Mars rover has struck on the dusty red road, taking a twist for the first time

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — NASA’s latest Mars rover struck on the dusty red road this week, placing 21 ft on the odometer in its initial test drive.

The Perseverance rover ventured from the landing place Thursday, two weeks after putting down on the red planet to seek indications of previous life.

The roundaboutback and forth driveway lasted only 33 minutes and proceeded really well that much more driving was on tap Friday and Saturday for its six-wheeled rover.

“This is actually the beginning of our journey ,” explained Rich Rieber, the NASA engineer that plotted the road. “This will be such as the Odyssey, experiences on the way, ideally no Cyclops, and I am sure there’ll be tales aplenty written concerning it.”

During a news conference Friday, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory at Pasadena, California, shared photographs of its paths over and around small stones.

“I really don’t think I have ever been more happy to view wheel tracks and I have seen a great deal of these,” said engineer Anais Zarifian.

Flight controls are still assessing all Perseverance’s systems. Thus far, everything is looking great.

Ahead of the car-size rover can go to an early river delta to amass stone for eventual return to Earth, it has to shed its so-called protective”belly pan” and launch an experimental helicopter called Ingenuity.

As it happens, Perseverance landed directly on the border of an expected helicopter landing strip — a pleasant, flat place, based on Rieber. Therefore the plan would be to push from the landing strip, then ditch the pan, then reunite for Ingenuity’s highly anticipated test flight. All this ought to be achieved by spring.

Researchers are debating whether to choose the smoother route for into the local delta or a potentially tougher manner with fascinating remnants from this once-watery period 3 billion to 4 billion decades back.

Perseverance — NASA’s largest and most elaborate rover nonetheless — became the ninth largest U.S. spacecraft to successfully land on Mars on Feb. 18. China expects to land its smaller rover — now orbiting the red planet — in a couple months.

She had been among the first African Americans for mainstream attention to science fiction.