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Perseverance has been on Mars for roughly a year. Based on the traverse path of Perseverance, it traveled rather slowly at first, and didn't cover much ground on its first 100 days on the red planet. Then it went faster to reach the an area south of its landing site. Did Perseverance not travel much at first because there were a lot of interesting martian things to study in that area around the landing site or because the rover was testing its systems? Or both, or something else?

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    $\begingroup$ There is an experimental plan to execute, and you get as much data as quickly as you can. Rovers aren't out for Sunday drives, they are there to get data. If you can get some here, you do it, then contemplate heading somewhere else. $\endgroup$
    – Jon Custer
    Feb 17 at 16:57
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    $\begingroup$ The interesting things to study in the first days where a piece of metal, carbon and plastic moving around in Martian air. And an even larger lump of metal that needed close inspection after traveling half a trillion meters through space. $\endgroup$
    – asdfex
    Feb 17 at 17:12

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See: https://scitechdaily.com/mars-perseverance-rover-driving-farther-and-faster-with-autonomous-navigation-and-helicopter-scouting/ And: https://mars.nasa.gov/resources/26020/perseverances-first-autonav-drive/

Long story short they upgraded the navigation software to "AutoNav":

July 01, 2021 The view from the left and right navigation cameras aboard NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover during its first drive using its auto-navigation function, also called AutoNav. While the navigation cameras are capable of color, the mobility software uses panchromatic images, which are easier for the machine-vision software to process.

Perseverance’s upgraded cameras and new Vision Compute Element computer have enabled major upgrades in mobility software. The new auto-navigation algorithms allow the rover to drive quicker and more efficiently than its predecessors. As a first test of its abilities, Perseverance’s team planned a drive that took the rover to a hazardous rock with AutoNav enabled. The software identified the rock as hazardous and successfully deviated the rover’s course around it.

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