NASA shows off Batmobile-like Mars rover prototype

NASA showed off its futuristic Mars rover concept vehicle on “Fox & Friends” Tuesday.

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The prototype’s cool design has already been compared to the tumbler from "The Dark Knight."

NASA MARS ROVER TOUR: BATMOBILE-LIKE CONCEPT VEHICLE AIMS TO INSPIRE NEXT-GEN DESIGNS

Former astronaut Jon McBride explained that the rover contains a laboratory for studying Mars samples.  “It comes in two pieces – there’s a laboratory section in the back,” he said. McBride explained that the front section of the Rover can drive away from the rear on the surface of Mars, where it can be used to collect samples. These samples can then be returned to the laboratory section for analysis.

McBride hopes that the concept vehicle, which is touring the U.S., will inspire young people and fuel their interest in space. “The idea is to encourage the youth,” he said. “We think that the person who walks on Mars is somewhere between 10 and 18 years old today.”

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The former U.S. Navy fighter pilot explained that his interest in space was inspired by President John F. Kennedy. “When I met John Kennedy in 1960, because he was campaigning in my home state of West Virginia, it turned the corner for me,” he said. “Exactly a year later he made the famous ‘we are going to go to the moon’ speech – that really got my attention.”

Mars looms ever larger in America’s space future. Last year NASA announced a May 2018 launch for its delayed Mars Insight mission to study the red planet. NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter celebrated 10 years at the red planet on March 10.

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NASA’s goal is to send a manned mission to Mars in the 2030s. However, former astronaut Buzz Aldrin thinks that a slightly later target date of 2040 is more realistic. In an interview last year, the Gemini 12 and Apollo 11 astronaut told Fox News that by 2040, astronauts could have visited Mars’ moon Phobos, which could serve as a sort of stepping stone to the Red Planet.

As part of its 'Summer of Mars' tour, the rover will be at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in New York this week. When the tour ends the rover will be back at Cape Canaveral on Florida’s Space Coast at Kennedy Space Center.

Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers

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