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ESA's test rover completes exploring Mars-like Atacama Desert

Washington, Oct 17 : ESA's test rover has completed its exploration of Chile's Mars-like Atacama Desert, it has been revealed.


The five-day Sample Acquisition Field Experiment with a Rover, or SAFER, field trial concluded on Saturday 12 October.

An early version of ESA's 2018 ExoMars rover fitted with a trio of prototype ExoMars instruments was overseen from a remote control centre at the Satellite Applications Catapult facility in Harwell, UK.

The controllers sat in front of a large video wall, combining data from the rover's instruments with their own 3D planning maps.

Over the course of six simulated martian days, they reviewed rover data to select new targets or trajectories for subsequent investigation.

"SAFER's purpose is really to build up experience in rover field testing, so the remote team worked as realistically as possible," Michel van Winnendael, overseeing the testing for ESA said.

Just as the actual rover will do on Mars, the test rover - supplied by Astrium in Stevenage, UK and dubbed 'Bridget' - hosted a panoramic camera, close-up imager resembling a geologist's lens and ground-penetrating radar to identify promising sites for subsurface excavation.

--ANI (Posted on 18-10-2013)

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