WASHINGTON: NASA has unveiled a futuristic Mars rover concept that may help the US space agency develop plans for its mission to the red planet scheduled for 2020.
NASA's next robotic Mars rover is set to land on the red planet in 2020. The rover will search for signs of past microbial life and collect core samples for a potentially future return to Earth.
The Mars rover concept vehicle was unveiled at the Kennedy Space Centre Visitor Complex in the US with a goal of inspiration and education as NASA continues developing plans for its journey to the red planet.
The visitor complex kicked off its "Summer of Mars" promotion which included former astronaut Scott Kelly.
Kelly shared some of his experiences during a one-year stay aboard the International Space Station (ISS).
The Summer of Mars programme will provide a survey of NASA's studies of the red planet, said Rebecca Shireman, assistant manager of public relations for the Kennedy visitor complex.
"We hope this will encourage young people to want to learn more about being a part of the effort to go to Mars," she said.
The builders of the scientifically-themed Mars rover concept vehicle, Parker Brothers Concepts of Florida, incorporated input into its design from NASA subject matter experts.
The rover operates on an electric motor, powered by solar panels and a 700-volt battery.
The rover separates in the middle with the front area designed for scouting and equipped with a radio and navigation provided by the Global Positioning System (GPS).
The back section serves as a laboratory which can disconnect for autonomous research.
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.