Tuesday, April 1, 2014

European Space Agency Goes Green on the Red Planet

ExoRover 'Bryan' shows off his eco-friendly chassis at the unveiling of the new ESA Mars Yard in Stevenage (ESA).
01 April 2014 - Stevenage, UK - The opening of the European Space Agency’s (ESA) “Mars Yard” today was celebrated as an important step by ExoMars, a joint endeavour between the agency and Russia’s Roscosmos, in their effort to send a rover to the Red Planet in 2018. The European Mars rover, also unveiled, is designed to drill beneath the surface of the Red Planet searching for signs of life. It's been dubbed 'Bryan' by its creators - earlier versions were named Bridget and Bruno.

ESA’s Director of Science and Robotic Exploration, Colin Paynter, on hand at the Stevenage site of Airbus Defence and Space for the unveiling, also took the occasion to make the announcement that significant components of the European rover would make use of recycled materials. Referring to the dire warnings about climate change announced yesterday by the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Mr. Paynter explained, “in light of the urgency for all of us to work diligently toward carbon-reduction goals, ESA has committed to create a rover whose chassis will be constructed largely from cardboard and plywood.” Acknowledging that this would add significantly to the engineering challenges posed by the already technologically daunting mission, Paynter assured the audience saying, “I think our people are up to the task.”