When automakers want the public to get excited about the future, they build concept cars. Now NASA is proving that idea works not only for next year’s sedans and SUVs, but for Mars exploration as well.
NASA’s Mars Rover concept won’t actually turn a wheel on the Red Planet, but its eye-catching design will get people’s attention. The vehicle will be displayed at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex to promote the complex’s “Summer of Mars” program, according to a NASA blog post. The program was created to educate the public on NASA’s Mars exploration efforts.
The Mars Rover concept was built by Parker Brothers Concepts, a Florida-based outfit that previously built a replica of the “Tumbler” Batmobile, which a Saudi team unsuccessfully tried to enter into the Gumball 3000 rally. The Tumbler seems to have influenced the design of the six-wheeled Mars Rover, which looks decidedly more macho than real-life space vehicles.
According to NASA, the rover is electric, with power supplied by solar panels or a 700-volt battery. It can split in the middle, allowing astronauts to use the front section for scouting missions, with the rear section serving as a laboratory. NASA noted that this exact design does not represent what it actually plans to send to Mars, and no taxpayer money was used to fund the concept vehicle.
While it may be pure science fiction, the Mars Rover concept seems like the perfect tool for getting people interested in space exploration. It will displayed at the Kennedy Space Center for the next few weeks, before making a tour of the East Coast in July and August.
Meanwhile, NASA’s next real Mars rover is set to land on the Red Planet in 2020. It will search the Martian soil for signs of past microbial life, and collect samples for potential future return to Earth.
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