Space News: NASA readies Perseverance, Mars Rover’s earthly twin

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[embedded content]As NASA’s Mars rover Perseverance hurtles through space toward the Red Planet, the six-wheeler’s twin is ready to roll here on Earth.A full-scale engineering version of the Mars 2020 Perseverance rover – outfitted with wheels, cameras, and powerful computers to help it drive autonomously – has just moved into its garage home at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. This rover model passed its first driving test in a relatively tame warehouselike assembly room at JPL on Sept. 1. Engineers expect to take it out next week into the Mars Yard, where a field of red dirt studded with rocks and other obstacles simulates the Red Planet’s surface.”Perseverance’s mobility team can’t wait to finally drive our test rover outside,” said Anais Zarifian, the mobility test bed engineer at JPL. “This is the test robot that comes closest to simulating the actual mission operations Perseverance will experience on Mars – with wheels, eyes, and brains all together – so this rover is going to be especially fun to work with.”Wait, why does Perseverance need a twin?Perseverance isn’t flying to Mars with a mechanic. To avoid as many unexpected issues as possible after the rover lands on Feb. 18, 2021, the team needs …

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