NASA’s latest concept rover is a sleek, six-wheeled behemoth that looks uncannily similar to the Batmobile. Recently unveiled at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, the futuristic vehicle of four boasts a detachable laboratory that could branch out to look for alien life on Mars. Built to inspire inventive rover designs for the space agency’s highly-anticipated manned missions to the Red Planet, this badass buggy concept is currently in the middle of a cross-country tour.
The Batmobile-esque rover is primarily the brainchild of Marc and Shanon Parker of Florida-based Parker Brothers Concepts, who also enlisted the help of NASA’s subject matter experts (SME). Fashioned out of aluminum and strengthened carbon fiber, the one-of-a-kind vehicle has enough room to accommodate a team of four astronauts. According to the developers, it runs entirely on solar energy, which in turn feeds a powerful 700-volt battery. Speaking about the project, a spokesperson at NASA said:
While this exact rover is not expected to operate on Mars, one or more of its elements could make its way into a rover astronauts will drive on the Red Planet… It’s an all-encompassing effort to review the history of our efforts to explore Mars and look ahead to what is being planned. We hope this will encourage young people to want to learn more about being a part of the effort to go to Mars.
Measuring around 28 feet (or 8.5 meter) in length, 13 feet (4 meter) in width and 11 feet (about 3.4 meter) in height, the giant space buggy is believed to be more than 5,000 pounds (approx. 2,250 kilogram) heavy. The vehicle’s front section is engineered to scout out different regions on the Red Planet, with the help of advanced radio and navigation controls by the Global Positioning System. The rear portion, the team reveal, houses the detachable laboratory that can go out on its own in search of signs of life.
To be able to safely navigate Mars’ craggy terrain, the Batmobile-like rover comes equipped with six robust wheels, around 50 inches (or 1.3 meter) high and 30 inches (about .75 meter) wide. Each of these wheels features strategically-located air ducts that allow the planet’s rough, red sand to escape without causing any real damage. As pointed out by the developers, the vehicle can attain speeds of nearly 60 to 70 miles per hour (around 95 to 110 kilometer per hour), even on the rocky Martian landscape. Marc added:
What we actually came up with was a dual-purpose vehicle. It actually separates in the middle. The rear section is a full lab, the front area is a cockpit for going out and doing scouting. The lab section can actually disconnect … and be left on its own to do autonomous research. That way the scout vehicle can go out to do its thing without the fuel consumption and extra weight, then come back later.
The vehicle, unfortunately, is only meant to serve as an inspiration and, will likely never reach the Red Planet. In the meantime, however, it will embark on a cross-country tour along the East Coast, as part of NASA’s upcoming ‘Summer of Mars’ campaign intended to get youngsters excited about the possibilities of space exploration. By the end of August, it will make its way back to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex for the Attraction Training Experience event.
If you are wondering why this concept rover looks like the Batmobile, it might be because Parker Brothers Concepts actually specializes in creating over-the-top vehicles for film and television productions. The designers, who spent a total of five months to build the Mars rover, went on to say:
We’re also filming for a reality television series that’s going to be coming out about this build… Me and the guys, we averaged about 80 to 100 hours a week, each. We worked 10-, 12-, 14-hour days, seven days a week since late last year. If I thought about how many hours we put into this thing, I’d probably cry. It’s way too many.
Via: Daily Mail Online