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ESA’s Test Rover ExoMars Completes Exploring Mars-like Atacama Desert In Chile

ExoMars or Exobiology on Mars is a large Mars mission to search for biosignatures of Martian life, past or present. This astrobiology mission includes several spacecraft elements to be sent to Mars on two launches. However, lately  the test rover ExoMars has completed exploring Mars-like Atacama Desert in Chile.


ESA's Test Rover ExoMars

The image you see above is of Bridget (nick name of prototype ExoMars rover). It has been built by Astrium in Stevenage, UK. Bridget is part of a program to gain experience in building and operating planetary rovers in anticipation of the 2018 ESA Mars mission. However, the prototype recently has completed six “Martian days” of tests roaming Chile’s Atacama Desert. Bridget’s trial on Atacama Desert is known as the Sample Field Acquisition Experiment with a Rover (SAFER).

During the trial, the rover was equipped with three prototype instruments – panoramic camera, a close-up imager, and a ground-penetrating radar – for exploring the Atacama Desert, which is the driest and most lifeless spot on Earth. But besides these instruments, the final ExoMars rover will include a robotic drill for collecting soil samples, which Bridget lacks.

This astrobiology mission is currently under development by the European Space Agency (ESA) in collaboration by the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos). The entire trial was controlled from the Remote Control Center (RCC) at the Satellite Applications Catapult facility in Harwell, UK, where scientists and engineers followed the rover using a large video wall that displayed data from the rover mixed with 3D maps that were made using a UAV to simulate images taken from an orbiter.

According to ESA, the local geology (Atacama Desert) is similar to the Red Planet. The video below shows the 3D representation of the test area as seen from the RCC.

Source: ESA
Thanks To: Gizmag

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