Space

Concept vehicle is made for Mars

Concept vehicle is made for Ma...
The Mars rover concept vehicle makes its debut at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex
The Mars rover concept vehicle makes its debut at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex
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The Mars rover concept vehicle's six semi-spherical wheels are designed to provide optimal traction on both rocks and in sand
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The Mars rover concept vehicle's six semi-spherical wheels are designed to provide optimal traction on both rocks and in sand
The Mars rover concept vehicle makes its debut at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex
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The Mars rover concept vehicle makes its debut at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

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.

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 Mars rover concept vehicle's six semi-spherical wheels are designed to provide optimal traction on both rocks and in sand
The Mars rover concept vehicle's six semi-spherical wheels are designed to provide optimal traction on both rocks and in sand

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.

Source: NASA via CBS News

Summer of Mars Kickoff Event at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

6 comments
6 comments
Madlyb
Let's be honest, this isn't a viable concept vehicle for Mars...it is a movie prop and not even a good one. The vehicles in The Martian were more realistic by far.
Static
You can see where NASA waste money now...
Michael Wilson
As a prop designed to get kids interested in STEM, it's great. As a future Rover design, it's far from realistic. Looks badass, but it was designed to spark the imagination of future astronauts, not carry them
Nik
I agree, its an unrealistic nightmare! All those sharp corners and crannies, it will end up carrying half its weight in collected dust. How do you clean dust off the windows? The ground clearance looks totally inadequate, and the wheels far too small. For a more realistic pattern for rough ground, first start with a farm tractor. Caterpillar tracks were found to be superior to wheels for crossing rough terrain 100 years ago. The wheels on this device would be bound to snag between rocks, or sink into soft sand, and given that the occupants will need to wear space suits outside the vehicle, digging out a vehicle of this size would be highly hazardous, and extremely unpleasant. If the front section detaches, which part gets the middle pair of wheels? This would also require double doors between the sections, so = two separate vehicles, why not just make one a trailer?
Tom Lee Mullins
I think that is really cool. I think it would be great for off road and desert running.
I agree with some other posts, great for a movie but not really practical for taking to mars or any other planet.
ljaques
Yeah, cool movie prop and probably a good fund gathering tool for NASA. More realistically, take a CanAm Maverick, make it electric, and you're halfway there at 1/1000 the cost. ;)