So, Percy is doing fine, having landed safely, systems are checking out and functioning well and camera's have already sent back some stunning images of Percy's surroundings. The rover has also taken its first short journey to try out essence, verify that the wheels on this very expensive bus do indeed go round and round.    

Tracks in the martian soil - We have wheels, let's roll
(click for larger image

The Perseverance rover mission is the next stage of NASA's robotic exploration of the Red Planet, the primary objective for this mission being astrobiology research, seeking for signs of habitable conditions on Mars in the ancient past, as well as searching for signs of past microbial life itself. Perseverance, like its still functioning predecessor, Curiosity, will be able to roam over the martian surface , taking one of two routes still being assessed by mission scientists, through what is believed to be an ancient river delta basin spilling into Jezero crater, which billions of years ago had water flowing through it. 

Jezero crater, with location of landing site circled. (click for larger image)


Actual touch down site on the delta plain (click for larger image)

All this is to come, but for the next few weeks attention will be turned to the package strapped to the underside or Percy, the helidrone Igenuity. This small, lightweight helicopter drone is an experimental demonstrator to see whether such devices have the ability to fly in the thinner Martian atmosphere.

Over the past week or so, Percy has been trundling over the Martian terrain near where it landed looking for a suitable landing strip - somewhere flat and not over strewn with debris. A suitable location has now been identified and Ingenuity's protective shroud has been dropped, so that the drone can rotate out of the belly of Percy. 

Igenuity see first light, hopefully soon to be first flight
(click for larger image)

Once released, Ingenuity will perform a series of test flights over a 30-Martian-day window beginning sometime after April 8th.  

Igenuity - soon to undertake the first powered flight from the surface of another world ?
(click for larger image

The space to watch is   


All images - NASA/Caltech/JPL