July 4, 2013
Exploring Mars On Earth
A little corner of ESA's technical heart that is forever Mars: this rubble-strewn model of the Red Planet is used to put prototype planetary rovers through their paces. Officially known as the Automation & Planetary Robotics Lab, its nickname is the 'Mars Yard'.
Dutch students explore this alien environment in the photo shown here, part of a series taken by image gallery TechniekBeeldbank.nu. The site offers the media positive images of engineering to appeal to young people.
An 8 x 8 m square filled with sand and different sizes of gravel and rocks, the Mars Yard offers a small crater, a boulder field, a sandy dune and a gravel slope area.
This martian testbed serves to assess rover locomotion and navigation as well as the positioning of robotic arms -- then check how all these elements operate together in practice, as integration is a major challenge in space robotic systems.
Specialized equipment for precisely recording the robots' performance includes motion-tracking infrared cameras.
On The Net: