The Atacama desert (Image: ESA)
Artist's rendering of the ExoMars rover (Image: ESA)
The Harwell Science and Innovation Campus in Oxfordshire (image: STFC Innovations)
Surface of the Atacam desert (Image: European Southern Observatory)
SAFER field test rover (Image: ESA, Michel van Winnendael)
SAFER field test rover "Bridget" in the Atacama (Image: Mark Woods, Scisys)
The Atacama desert in Chile is so dry that parts of it are utterly devoid of life down to bacteria. That and its sandy, rock-strewn terrain makes it so similar to Mars that it's a perfect spot for ESA to trial its Sample Acquisition Field Experiment with a Rover (SAFER), which will this week carry out tests related to navigation, remote control and the use of scientific instruments. The agency’s goal is the latest in a series of tests to develop technologies and gain practical experience in anticipation of ESA’s launch of the ExoMars rover to the Red Planet in 2018.
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