March 01, 2009

Based on an artist's concept, real technology, and potential mission-design ideas, this animation shows a habitat for human explorers established on Mars, as well as a vehicle used for traveling safely to sites away from home base where astronauts might go to explore. This vehicle is conceptually based on a NASA technology demonstration robotic vehicle known as ATHLETE. The video suggests the idea that astronauts will be continuing the quest to seek evidence of habitable environments and signs of past microbial life, following the NASA's science strategy for Mars. The terrain is based on a model of Jezero Crater, thought to be an ancient, now-dry lake bed with remains of a "river delta" leading into it, as well as clays known to preserve organics, the chemical building blocks of life. The animation of the human exploration of Mars also depicts the advanced "robot helpers" that will make their work lives easier on the Martian surface, suggesting the human-robotic partnership that will be needed for this ambitious adventure. The Centaur-like robots are based on a NASA technology demonstration robot known as "Robonaut," as well as on the concept of Mars rovers. Finally, the video also suggests the creation of an "interplanetary internet" that would allow discovery to be shared by all of Earth's peoples almost as soon as it happens.

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