back to article NASA shows Mars that humans can drive a remote control space tank at .01 km/h

NASA’s Perseverance rover trekked across Mars for the first time last Thursday, March 4, 2021. The vehicle went four whole meters forward, turned 150 degrees to the left, then moved another two-and-a-half meters. The entire drive covered a whopping 6.5 m (21.3 feet) across Martian terrain. The journey took about 33 minutes. …

  1. don't you hate it when you lose your account Silver badge

    Drives like

    My mum. But luckily she doesn't have the lasers.

    1. Mike 16 Silver badge

      Re: Drives like

      @don't...

      We need to know if its right-turn indicator was blinking the whole time.

      1. HildyJ Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: Drives like

        It probably just couldn't get to Google Maps so it had to keep stopping to unfold and refold its paper map.

        Go, albeit slowly, boffins! A pint of slow pull Guinness for all.

    2. spireite
      Joke

      Obligatory bus reference......

      "I hate you Butler" .........

  2. Evil Auditor Silver badge

    ...regular commutes extending 656 feet

    It must not go too far: xkcd

  3. Chris G Silver badge

    Butler's Landing

    I have been a Sci-Fi fan for decades but have never come across Octavia Butler's work before, after having a quick read of her Wikipedia page I must remedy that.

    After reading the XKCD comic, I hope Perseverance can use its lasers in a defensive capacity.

    1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

      Re: Butler's Landing

      I too had not heard of Octavia Butler as a Sci-Fi author, despite reading almost exclusively sci-fi after I grew out of 'Biggles' books. Fortunately in Lockdown I have lots of time to read.

      I may even listen to some Florence Price* music while reading Butler.

      As for "I hope Perseverance can use its lasers in a defensive capacity", I doubt they would trouble the martian Ice Warriors, so best hope they consider Perseverance to be a peace offering.

      *Florence Price was a superb black female composer whose work is only now receiving the recognition she deserves. Her piano concerto is excellent.

      1. Norman Nescio

        Re: Butler's Landing

        Despite reading a fair amount of classic Sci-Fi written by people of unsound opinions to modern sensibilities, I too have not read any of Octavia Butler's work. Which is a shame. The first thing that comes to mind, much like John Brown (no body), is the 'Butlerian Jihad' from Frank Herbert's oeuvre:

        "Thou shalt not make a machine in the likeness of a human mind," the creation of even the simplest thinking machines is outlawed and made taboo

        There's a few people who feel that way about AIs in general.

        Of course, give the sandiness of Mars, the pattern matching mechanism in my mind could well have been weighting anything to do with Arrakis for the Butlerian idea to float to the top of the maelstrom of my thoughts. Hmm. Weight. Float. My mind is not being logical.

        NN

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Butler's Landing

      "After reading the XKCD comic, I hope Perseverance can use its lasers in a defensive capacity."

      Maybe Butler can start a Jihad against the thinking Martian rovers?

  4. ZanzibarRastapopulous Silver badge

    Nothing there...

    Yep, if you look carefully you can see naff all...

    1. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

      Re: Nothing there...

      Yeah because you can discern so much scientific value from a picture on a website. You should contact NASA immediately, to offer your investigative prowess. I'm sure they'll be deeply humbled by your insight and curiosity.

    2. tfb Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: Nothing there...

      What makes this even more stupid than it first seems is that, even to a completely untrained observer like me, even in this image which I am almost sure doesn't come from one of the science cameras, there is something very interesting there indeed. In the middle distance are two areas of paler ground (the left hand one is only partly visible). Those are the areas where the plumes from the skycrane blew a lot of dust & surface crud away: looking at them will reveal underlying things, and knowing what shape they are, how large, and how much stuff has been blown off them is definitely going to be interesting.

      1. 2+2=5 Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: Nothing there...

        > there is something very interesting there indeed. In the middle distance are two areas of paler ground (the left hand one is only partly visible). Those are the areas where the plumes from the skycrane blew a lot of dust & surface crud away: looking at them will ...

        NASA needs to be very careful as to where they go next. Think about it: two pale circular patches with some tyre tracks leading away from the centre. If they double-back to look at those patches they could easily end up drawing a cock and balls. :-)

        1. Cuddles Silver badge

          Re: Nothing there...

          I believe the word you're missing there is "again".

          https://www.space.com/20813-mars-penis-spirit-rover-tracks.html

      2. Jellied Eel Silver badge

        Re: Nothing there...

        Those are the areas where the plumes from the skycrane blew a lot of dust & surface crud away: looking at them will reveal underlying things, and knowing what shape they are, how large, and how much stuff has been blown off them is definitely going to be interesting.

        Yup. Especially after the challenges previous probe had in trying to get the hammer down. So if at some point we're going to live* on Mars, we're probably going to need to dig holes to keep cosmic rays** out. And if that means having to dig trenches in hard packed or solid rock, we're gonna need a bigger space backhoe. Or a sufficient quantity of high explosives***.

        *This is also why Amazon, Ikea etc are trying to condition humanity into living in micro-homes so we'll accept space constraints as future voluntary or involuntary colonists. Rumors that Musk has a 'black' biotech division developing pygmy humans for volume, mass and resource efficiency are deniable.

        **Cosmic Rays are relatives of Leisure Suit Larrys, neither of which you'd probably want in your fab hab.

        ***These may prove useful to mine landing pads for when the inevitable 'Martian Makeover' reality TV crews are due to arrive. I doubt our decendents will be able to escape home improvement shows.

      3. ZanzibarRastapopulous Silver badge

        Re: Nothing there...

        Yeah, the most interesting thing there is the thing they put there.

        There will be nowt of scientific value from this just as other Mars explorations have uncovered nowt.

    3. don't you hate it when you lose your account Silver badge

      Re: Nothing there...

      Pretty sure I can see my house from up there

  5. Sceptic Tank Bronze badge
    Trollface

    Would have been funny if it fell into a crevace.

    Good work everyone!

    1. Zimmer
      Go

      ..falling into a crevice

      No accidental discoveries of life on this trip ...

      Wolowitz no longer has clearance to take young ladies into the control centre to 'drive a car on Mars'....

  6. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
    Joke

    Tesla

    When SpaceX get to Mars, will any vehicles/rovers be supplied by the Tesla division and be equipped with "AutoPilot" and "Ludicrous mode"?

    Images of Wiley E. Coyote crashing into boulders...

  7. not.known@this.address Silver badge
    Alien

    "The name's Wells, Dry Martian Wells..."

    "No-one would have believed, in the last years of the Brobnith Century, that Martian affairs were being watched from the timeless worlds of space. No-one would have believe that, across the gulfs of space, minds immeasurably inferior to ours would be trying to find the life that mimes and mimsies beneath the red dust of out homeworld.

    Then those daft buggers on the third planet started chucking their robot probes at us, and started making rude drawings in the sand.

  8. Howard Sway

    went 4 whole meters forward, turned 150 degrees to the left, then moved another 2.5 meters

    So, they sent a Big Trak?

    1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

      Re: went 4 whole meters forward, turned 150 degrees to the left, then moved another 2.5 meters

      either that or they hired a bunch of logo developers. Less a tank, more a nuclear powered remote control space turtle.

      1. spireite
        Joke

        Re: went 4 whole meters forward, turned 150 degrees to the left, then moved another 2.5 meters

        In that case, they should change their Logo

  9. Colin Miller
    Joke

    magic code

    forward, forward, back, back, left, right, left, right, clockwise, anti-clockwise

  10. RM Myers Silver badge
    Joke

    "...sped along at the astounding velocity of .01km/hr..."

    So basically like driving on the 405 in South California during rush hour. I would image many of the workers at JPL have experience doing that.

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: "...sped along at the astounding velocity of .01km/hr..."

      Having been there at the wrong time of day a few times, I can totally understand...

      (Don't know whether the 405 or the 10 is worse)

      Was thinking, though, given the 200 meter range of the rover, are they using too low of a power level for the comms? Maybe should use xx Watt or better transmitters instead of BTLE equivalent (an extreme comparison)?

      /me points out that packet bursts don't need that much power to transmit, because of the short duty cycle involved - but a STRONG receiver for weak signals MIGHT use more current than higher watt burst transmitters as they must run continuously. And more current for less noise in the front end.

      Also used to work for a company that made electronically steerable wifi antennas. NASA probably invented stuff like that back in the day for AEGIS cruisers in the 80's [phased arrays etc.]. So with directional antennas and steering/scanning you could easily increase the antenna gain by 10db or more, especially in a relatively flat area without vertical things in the way. 200m is like the range you'd get with a standard wifi in a clear field with no other transmitters and an omni antenna. Then again maybe it's got that kind of steering antenna tech already [something better than wifi diversity]. Worth pointing out, MIMO doesn't work well in a clear field - it needs multipath which means reflections actually help. Ah, hell, maybe I could recommend some RF and antenna engineers [not me I did the software] to assist with the next rover, especially a flying one, to extend its range.

      Because there's really NO reason, other than communication loss, to limit how far it can roam.

      1. Spherical Cow Bronze badge

        Re: "...sped along at the astounding velocity of .01km/hr..."

        "Was thinking, though, given the 200 meter range of the rover, are they using too low of a power level for the comms?"

        The 200m refers to the distance it will drive in one go before having a look around so we can decide where to send it next, it has nothing to do with communication range. The rover has three different antennae, two of which can communicate directly with earth (the other one is used for communicating with satellites orbiting Mars) so range is not a problem.

        More details here:

        https://mars.nasa.gov/mars2020/spacecraft/rover/communications/

        1. werdsmith Silver badge

          Re: "...sped along at the astounding velocity of .01km/hr..."

          Directly with Earth. That’s some DX QSO.

  11. This post has been deleted by its author

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