NASA’s Perseverance rover is set to land in Jezero Crater on Mars in February of 2021. However, before the rover begins its mission on the Red Planet, scientists and engineers from NASA are carrying out its test runs in Walker Lake, Nevada.
A team of scientists is present at the location with some extra cameras and other required equipment, while the Perseverance rover is being controlled by other scientists via a remote. The same way the rover will be operated on Mars.
NASA engineers wanted to replicate the conditions on earth that the rover will come across on Mars. This is the reason they chose Walker Lake bed, which hosted water at some point but not at the moment. The tiny plants growing out from the lake bed will help the scientists develop a sense of scale as seen from the rover. However, the only obstacles that the Perseverance rover will be coming across on the Martian surface will be rocks.
In an attempt to replicate the Martian surface that the rover will be trailing on, the on-sight team was asked to cover their footprints after they have walked over the bed so that the results produced from the test run are fair and square.
Perseverance rover plans on finding traces of life on Mars, just like its predecessors. The site that it is supposed to study has already been studied extensively from the orbit, however, results are different when the land is seen through a rover. Perseverance rover is equipped for storing some Martian soil as well that would be further studied when the rover returns to Earth after exploring Jezero Crater for a whole Martian year.
Raymond Francis, an engineer from Nasa, believes that this test run that they carried out in the Walker Lake bed has helped them immensely and now they know their way around the technology and how they will be operating the rover once it makes a landing on the Martian surface.