Perseverance Mars rover reaches Bright Angel

The Perseverance Mars rover, which is exploring the remains of the ancient Neretva Vallis, has finally reached a new location called Bright Angel. Here it is to explore unusual rock outcrops exposed by water flows.

Bright Angel. Source :

Perseverance’s exhausting journey

Since January, NASA’s Perseverance rover has been tracking the south side of the Neretva Vallis, which may be the remnants of a river delta that once fed a lake at the rover’s landing site in Jezero Crater. 

In the distance, Perseverance operators saw the glow of their next destination: Bright Angel, named for the light-colored rock outcroppings on the surface, which may be ancient rocks that exposed water flows that once flowed here.

But then, a relatively smooth journey turned into a grueling challenge when Perseverance rode into a field of unpredictable boulders. After several days of hard traveling, the decision was made to redirect the rover through a dune field and across a riverbed. It turned out to be the right decision: it had finally made it to the Bright Angel’s location.

Unexpected obstacles in the path of Perseverance

“We had been eyeing the river channel just to the north as we went, hoping to find a section where the dunes were small and far enough apart for a rover to pass between,” said Evan Graser, an engineer who is helping plan Perseverance’s route. “Perseverance also needed an entrance ramp we could safely travel down.”

Perseverance relies on AutoNav, a system that allows the rover to navigate on its own. If previous Mars rovers needed total control from Earth, now Perseverance’s guides can give it a general route and AutoNav will control it minute by minute. At first, this system could bypass the boulders in Perseverance’s path. But soon they became too big to handle.

“What had been drives averaging over a hundred meters per Martian day went down to only tens of meters. It was frustrating,” Grazer said in a statement.

Mars rover’s new path

Just north of Perseverance’s course, a field of Martian dunes separated it from the bottom of the riverbed. If the rover could cross the dunes, it could leave the boulders behind. Moving through such dunes is risky, as Martian sands have a way of trapping Mars rovers – just ask Spirit, which got stuck in 2009. Fortunately, these dunes were small and scattered enough for the rover to plot a course through them.

Now in the riverbed, Perseverance can travel about 200 meters (650 feet) in a Martian day. The new course was successful for scientific reasons as well. In the middle of the channel, the rover came across what is known as Mount Washburn, a rocky hill that presented scientists with exciting geologic opportunities. One of them was an interesting rock that scientists believe may be the product of an underground magma pool.

Then, having reached the cliff at the northern edge of the channel, Perseverance turned west. After four Martian days, the rover reached Bright Angel and began analyzing its rocks.

According to