Nasa unveils six-wheeled Mars rover complete with full laboratory and life support systems
Nasa has unveiled a new Mars rover concept vehicle designed to function "as both a working vehicle and laboratory" for the next generation of space explorers.
The 8.5-metre vehicle would not look out of place in a science-fiction film. It features six huge wheels to allow it to travel over craters, dunes and rocks, a sloping front reminiscent of the Nolan-era Batmobile and solar panels to power everything.
"It features life support systems, navigation and communication systems, and design and materials that relate to conditions and resources on Mars," Nasa said.
Created by Parker Brothers Concepts, the rover — which looks nothing like the actual vehicles that have trundled over Mars' surface, 34 million miles away — will promote Nasa's "summer of Mars" to teach young people about its efforts to land humans on Earth's neighbouring world.
The concept vehicle will never cruise the dunes of Mars but Nasa believes "one or more of its elements could make its way into a rover astronauts will drive on the red planet".
The space agency's next robotic rover is due to touch down in 2020, to "search for signs of past microbial life and collect core samples for a potentially future return to Earth".