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New ‘intelligent’ Rover speeds up space missions

Published by Rob on Thu Aug 30, 2007 6:30 pm
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A new Mars rover that can think for itself will collect samples from the Red Planet up to three times quicker than previous rovers.

The European Space Agency’s ExoMars rover has autonomous systems developed in Aberystwyth which allow it to analyse the Martian terrain and identify the best places to drill for samples without human intervention.

Tests in the ‘Mars Yard’ at the University of Wales show ExoMars should be able to identify a target and get a sample in less than one Martian day (around 40 minutes longer than an Earth day). It can take NASA’s Mars Exploration Rovers three Martian days.

Dr Dave Barnes is part of the team that made the breakthrough. Presenting the results at the European Science Conference in Potsdam, Germany, he said: “The versatility of our system and its ability to pinpoint the best site to take samples, even from complex micro-features on rocks, could be vital when looking for evidence of exobiology.”

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