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NASA Tests Mars Rover
by Frank Sietzen "SpaceCast News Service"
A prototype of a rover that might one day travel the red sands of Mars has undergone its first "trek" on simulated Martian soil and passed the test. A six wheeled roving vehicle nicknamed "Rocky 7" was subjected to extensive testing May 23-30th at Lavic Lake, a dried up ancient lake bed located near Los Angeles, Calif. There NASA engineers and scientists from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in nearby Pasadena simulated Martian terrain and a typical research mission such a rover might conduct. The craft was driven across the Mars "landscape" and conducted five simulated science experiments under real-time conditions. It also collected samples of rocks and soil like a real Mars rover might collect, in preparation for their return back to Earth.

The roving craft bears a striking resemblance to the Sojourner rover due for landing on Mars this July 4th. But Rocky 7 weighs more than the Sojourner and is capable of more extensive exploration -and collecting of samples for scientists to study in NASA labs on Earth. Rocky also transmitted 580 images to operators both at the test site as well as JPL in Pasadena. The testing simulated 32 days of a Mars roving mission. NASA has plans to launch such a roving/sample return flight in 2001 and 2003.

Mars Rover Website

Spacer.Com Special: Earth Invades Mars

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