NASA's new Mars rover prototype looks like a Batmobile
The Kennedy Space Center reveals new Mars buggy on social media. The latest project of NASA’s privately owned Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex has taken even the most ardent space buff completely by surprise. It has transpired that since last year, the company has been involved with the creation of a high-tech concept vehicle which is capable of acting an exploration rover on Mars.
The space center trailed images of videos of the space buggy on social media before releasing the news to the mainstream media. A video was shared to Instagram showing the rover in action, slowly moving across the road in front of the Kennedy Space Center. This video particularly caught the attention of the general public who noted that the buggy bears more than a passing resemblance to the Batmobile in ‘Batman Begins.'
The cinematic reference would most certainly not be lost on the buggy’s creators, Marc Parker and his brother Shanon Parker. Over the years, the brothers have made their names designed audacious and high-spec vehicles for the use in television programs and action movies. Speaking to the press, Marc Parker explained that the buggy had been specifically designed to withstand the obstacles that a voyage to Mars will present. He described the buggy as a ‘dual-purpose vehicle’ that separates into two pieces. The rear section in a full lab and the front section is a cockpit which can be used for scouting. The two pieces of the buggy can act independently of one another and perform their research tasks separately.
However, the buggy will not be used for a visit to Mars. Instead, the buggy is going to be the centerpiece of the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex’s ‘Summer of Mars.' This is a planned educational event that will be conducted in conjunction with NASA to teach the public, especially children, about the mysteries of the Red Planet and the exploration of outer space.
Marc Parker explained that he was incredibly enthusiastic about this project. "Movies are cool, TV is cool, but it's something else to be part of a thing that could inspire kids to go Mars and live in outer space, "he said to reporters. He also revealed that the making of the Batmobile-rescue Mars buggy had been captured in full by a television documentary crew and the whole story should be hitting screens at some point this year.
NASA unveils Batmobile Mars Rover
NASA in conjunction with the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, have unveiled their new concept Mars rover, a six-wheeled vehicle oddly resembling the Batmobile.
NASA plan to begin manned missions to Mars by 2033 and the rover is part of a larger event entitled 'Summer of Mars' held at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, which is owned by NASA but run by a third party.
Being a conceptual design, it isn't clear how close the vehicle is to anything that will one day be exploring the surface of the red planet. What the rover will do however is raise interest in the idea of exploring Mars at a time when interest among the general public is fairly low.
The space agency tends to receive a higher or lower budget depending on several factors. Most influential are the economic and political conditions at the time the budget is drawn up. Public opinion of space exploration and the work that NASA is doing, however, go a long way towards influencing their budget as well. The more popular NASA is, the better funded it becomes and the more projects it can pursue.
The lofty goal of reaching Mars in a relatively short time is due in part to the new budget given to the space agency by the passing of a bill entitled the NASA Transition Authorization Act of 2017. The bill provides NASA with a budget of $19.3 billion per year or 0.5% of the total budget and focuses on reaching Mars and the continued development of the space launch system.
The budget does however dramatically cut certain sections of NASA's operations, namely the Earth sciences. These sections of NASA deal primarily with ecological and environmental issues and don't tend to attract as much press as space exploration.
The designer of the vehicle, Marc Parker, said of his creation:
"What we came up with was a dual-purpose vehicle. It separates in the middle. The rear section is a full lab; the front area is a cockpit for going out and doing scouting, "
The vehicle is solar powered as most rover designs tend to be, and features specially designed tires that allow the fine dust of the Martian surface to pass through them.
Design and construction of the vehicle began in November 2016 and was completed earlier this month. The concept design, although not directly mandated by NASA itself does follow broad guidelines that the space agency put in place.