The future European Space Agency mission in terms of searching for proof of life in space will focus on Mars. They’ve built a prototype of a rover, and scientists believe it will help them find life on Mars within three years. For now, the rover was tested by the engineers.
ExoFiT Mars Rover – Charlie
The team has nicknamed the rover Charlie, and they tested the hardware, software and its science operations this week. They also drove the rover off the lander, made it identify and travel over a similar ground as the one found on Mars and then the rover started sampling a rock with its drill. All of the tests were done in the Tabernas Desert in Spain.
According to the CEO UK Space Agency, Graham Turnock, Mars is the most habitable planet in our solar system, after the Earth, and it’s “a perfect destination to explore the possibility of life on other planets, as well as the history of our own.”
Charlie has some instruments aboard that had to be tested: the WISDOM ground penetrating radar, a panorama camera that can take 3D maps of the surrounding area and a drill that will get soil samples to be analyzed by WISDOM.
The project manager for ExoFiT, Ben Dobke (Airbus), stated that the main goal of the rover is to set up efficient remote science operations and it supposed to “develop operational experience for both ExoMars and future robotic Mars missions.”
The next test will be done in the Atacama Desert in Chile in 2019.
The finished model will weigh 300 kg and be made of carbon fiber. The vehicle will be self-navigating, but it can also be navigated by operators on Earth, and the instructions should take about 24 minutes to get from Earth to Mars.
Charlie will be the first rover that will go to Mars and drill in the soil to see if the Red Planet has life buried inside, safe from the solar radiation.
Andre Blair s is the lead editor for Advocator.ca. He holds a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Toronto, and a Master of Science in Public Health (M.S.P.H.) from the School of Public Health, Department of Health Administration, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Andre specializes in environmental health, but writes on a variety of issues.