Posted on 07/05/2010
The Mars Rover was constructed to determine whether life exists on Mars
The Mars Rover landed at Royal Holloway, University of London today (7 April) as part of a conference discussing the possibility of life on other planets.
The machine, nicknamed Bridget but more formally known as the Mars Rover Engineering Development Model, is a full sized, fully functional six-wheeled robot designed for testing technologies that may be deployed to test rock and other samples from beneath the planet′s surface to determine whether life ever existed on Mars, or could exist in the future. Bridget, which is about the same size as a Mini, was constructed by the UK-based satellite and space company Eads-Astrium.
The Rover has already been put through its paces in Spain. Designers have been testing its capabilities on the barren flanks of Mount Teide volcano in Tenerife, said to have similarities to the surface of the red planet.
A few lucky sixth form students from schools in Surrey who will be attending an 'Astrobiology' event at Royal Holloway on 7 April will get the chance to test-drive Bridget. This outreach event is part of a conference being held in the Earth Sciences Department at Royal Holloway from 7-9 April, at which the UK’s experts on the possibility of life on other planets will be gathering.
Conference organiser, Dr David Waltham, Head of the Department of Earth Sciences at Royal Holloway, said, “This is a very exciting meeting bringing together scientists interested in the emergence of life on Earth, the ability of life to survive elsewhere in the Solar System and the detection of possible life-bearing planets orbiting distant stars”.