If Batman were to go to Mars, is this what he would drive once he got there? Actually, probably not. NASA's recently-unveiled Mars rover concept vehicle is intended to stay here on Earth, where it will hopefully inspire young people to learn more about the agency's ongoing efforts to send astronauts to the Red Planet. That said, some of its technical features may ultimately find use in a manned mission.
The 24-ft (7-m) electric vehicle was presented to the public this Monday, as part of a ceremony to launch the NASA-affiliated Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex's "Summer of Mars" event.
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Commissioned by the visitor complex, it was built by Port Canaveral, Florida-based Parker Brothers Concepts (using no taxpayer dollars, we're told). Among other things, the company has previously created a street-legal light cycle based on those in the movie Tron.
The rover's electric motor is powered by a 700-volt battery, which is in turn charged by built-in solar panels. Its GPS- and radio-equipped front section seats four people, and can detach from the rear for outings such as scouting missions. That rear section houses a mock lab, and is made to be self-supporting while the rest of the vehicle is off exploring.
The vehicle's six semi-spherical wheels are designed to provide optimal traction on both rocks and in sand, offering plenty of surface area while also incorporating slats to keep them from getting bogged down.
If you're interested in seeing the rover in real life, it will be on display at the visitor complex for the next few weeks, after which it will spend July and August making appearances at various locations along the US East Coast.
Its unveiling can be seen in the video below.