NASA and the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex have declared this summer as The Summer of Mars. (Just in case you were wondering!)
This event is not about an actual mission to Mars (yet), but more about promoting NASA's plans to visit the Red Planet in the near future. After all, the 2030s really aren't all that far away.
A Mars mission is full of all sorts of mind-boggling problems to solve: travelling there, surviving the journey, landing, making living quarters, making food... and the list goes on! But really, everyone wants to know one thing: what's the Mars rover going to look like?
Well, check it out...
To the Bat-Mars-bile! Let's go!
That is one impressive-looking vehicle, right? A company called Parker Brothers Concepts has built the Mars rover to end all Mars rovers. Parker Brothers actually makes vehicles for movies and TV, so they've got lots of experience imagining how we'd get around in the future!
Even though this is only a prototype, or test machine, that will never be on the planet itself, it is exciting to behold. The all-electric six-wheeler is made of carbon fiber and aluminum. And is huge.
It weighs 2,267 kg (5,000 lbs.), and is 8.5 m (28 ft.) long. (You won't be seeing this thing driving down the street anytime soon.) And despite this weight and length, it's still pretty quick, with an estimated top speed of 96 to 112 km/h (60 to 70 mph)—about as fast as a car on a highway.
A lab and a rover
The rover is basically the size of two cars, which makes sense because its builders designed it to split in two. So how does it work?
The rear of the vehicle is designed to be a lab. Astronauts can test samples and conduct experiments "on the road" instead of waiting to get back to their home shelter. Meanwhile, the front half can detach and explore the terrain further.
Speaking of terrain, its massive wheels are built to handle anything Mars can throw its way. Deep dunes, jagged rocks, wide craters... though we still might recommend driving around the craters whenever possible!
Want to get inside this Mars rover yourself? Well, it is going on tour during this Summer of Mars to a few American cities. But if you can't make it, chin up! Besides, where would you rather drive a vehicle like this? On Earth?
Or on Mars? (Future astronaut alert!)