NASA Tests Rover Concepts in Arizona

October 27, 2008
Small Pressurized Rover with a view of astronaut suitports. Image: NASA

( -- NASA's newest lunar rover prototype has now gone farther than it ever has before.

A collection of engineers, astronauts and geologists have spent the past week testing out the Small Pressurized Rover in the 11th annual Desert RATS – or Research and Technology Studies -- field tests. Two teams of one astronaut and one geologist each have been driving the rover through the Arizona desert, trying it out in two different configurations.

One configuration leaves the crew members free to get on and off the rover whenever they like, but they must wear spacesuits at all times to protect them from the lunar environment. The second configuration -- called the Small Pressurized Rover, or SPR -- adds a module on top of the rover’s chassis that the crew can sit inside as they drive the vehicle, donning spacesuits whenever they want to get out.

For the first week of tests, the rover has been driven on day-long trips to determine how each configuration performed. These have been some of the longest drives the prototype has ever made, but next week the group will step it up another notch or two, by going on a three-day drive through the desert in the SPR to determine how it performs and whether it's comfortable enough for long-duration trips.

Provided by NASA

Explore further: Dry run for the 2020 Mars mission

Related Stories

Dry run for the 2020 Mars mission

June 25, 2013

( —A film director looking for a location where a movie about Mars could be shot might consider the Atacama Desert, one of the harshest landscapes the planet has to offer. Due to the accidents of its geography, ...

JPL's space simulator today

September 10, 2012

(—You could call it the Ultimate Evil Tanning Bed—a stainless-steel torture chamber 47 feet tall and 25 feet in diameter that's expressly designed to deliver a fatal sunburn, if at all possible, to anything placed ...

Mars Odyssey Orbiter is back in service

June 28, 2012

( -- NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter has resumed its science observations and its role as a Mars rover's relay, thanks to a spare part that had been waiting 11 years to be put to use.

Mars Odyssey orbiter out of precautionary 'safe mode'

June 20, 2012

( -- NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter has been taken out of a protective status called safe mode. Remaining steps toward resuming all normal spacecraft activities will probably be completed by next week.

Test of spare wheel puts Orbiter on path to recovery

June 15, 2012

( -- In a step toward returning NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter to full service, mission controllers have tested a spare reaction wheel on the spacecraft for potential use with two other reaction wheels in adjusting ...

Recommended for you

Blue skies, frozen water detected on Pluto

October 8, 2015

Pluto has blue skies and patches of frozen water, according to the latest data out Thursday from NASA's unmanned New Horizons probe, which made a historic flyby of the dwarf planet in July.

Orbiter views Mars surface fractures

October 8, 2015

The High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera aboard NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter often takes images of Martian sand dunes to study the mobile soils. These images provide information about erosion and ...

NASA measuring the pulsating aurora

October 7, 2015

Thanks to a lucky conjunction of two satellites, a ground-based array of all-sky cameras, and some spectacular aurora borealis, researchers have uncovered evidence for an unexpected role that electrons have in creating the ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.