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Making tracks on Mars. Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The Perseverance rover took a drive on Mars for the first time last week.

Why it matters: The first jaunt is expected to set off a long and scientifically productive life on Mars for the car-sized rover.

Driving the news: Perseverance drove for about 33 minutes, going 13 feet forward and backing up about 8 feet before snapping some photos of the area where the rover touched down on the planet on Feb. 18.

  • “This was our first chance to ‘kick the tires’ and take Perseverance out for a spin. The rover’s six-wheel drive responded superbly," Anais Zarifian, a Perseverance team member said in a statement.
  • "We are now confident our drive system is good to go, capable of taking us wherever the science leads us over the next two years.”
  • On March 2, the rover also took about two hours to stretch its 7-foot robotic arm designed to let the rover use tools to snap photos of interesting rocks and learn more about their composition.

The big picture: The rover is specifically designed by NASA to search for signs of past life on the Red Planet.

  • Perseverance’s landing area — which is thought to have been a river delta billions of years ago — is believed to be one of the best places on the planet to look for fossilized signs of life.
  • To that end, the rover will use specially designed tubes to cache interesting samples that can be scooped up by a future mission and brought back to Earth for analysis.

What's next: Perseverance will continue to run diagnostics of its instruments, with the first flight of the Ingenuity helicopter — designed to fly above the Red Planet — planned for some time in the coming weeks.

1 fun thing: NASA named Perseverance's landing site "Octavia E. Butler Landing" in honor of the famous science fiction writer.

Go deeper

The E-commerce shopping spree

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Retailers have gotten really good at selling stuff online. So much so, investors want them to separate from the business units that do just that.

Why it matters: Spinning off these crown jewels may jeopardize both the physical and e-commerce sides of the companies in the long run by breaking the benefits of hybrid operations, analysts say.

2 hours ago - World

U.S. envoy to visit Sudan as "most dangerous" crisis intensifies

The sit-in in Khartoum. Photo: Mahmoud Hjaj/Anadolu Agency via Getty

U.S. envoy for the Horn of Africa Jeffrey Feltman will visit Khartoum this week amid what Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok has called the “worst and most dangerous" crisis of Sudan’s transition to democracy, two sources with direct knowledge tell Axios.

Driving the news: Roughly 2,000-3,000 people had joined a sit-in in Khartoum as of this afternoon, per Reuters, after protesters massed over the weekend to call on the military to bring down the government. The protests came just four weeks after a failed military coup.

Trump sues National Archives, Jan. 6 committee to block records request

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

President Trump filed a lawsuit Monday seeking to block the National Archives from releasing White House records to the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection, citing executive privilege.

Why it matters: It's the latest escalation in Trump's campaign to disrupt the committee's sweeping probe into the circumstances surrounding Jan. 6, including his actions and communications leading up to the Capitol attack.