Space History Photo: FIDO Rover
The FIDO Rover undergoes field test in April of 1999 to prepare for conditions on Mars.
Credit: NASA.

In this historical photo from the U.S. space agency, the Field Integrated Design and Operations (FIDO) rover is being used in ongoing NASA field tests to simulate driving conditions on Mars.

FIDO is at a geologically interesting site in central Nevada while it is controlled from the mission control room at JPL's Planetary Robotics Laboratory in Pasadena. FIDO uses a robot arm to manipulate science instruments and it has a new mini-corer or drill to extract and cache rock samples. Several camera systems onboard allow the rover to collect science and navigation images by remote-control.

The rover is about the size of a coffee table and weighs as much as a St. Bernard, about 70 kilograms (150 pounds). It is approximately 85 centimeters (about 33 inches) wide, 105 centimeters (41 inches) long, and 55 centimeters (22 inches) high. The rover moves up to 300 meters an hour (less than a mile per hour) over smooth terrain, using its onboard stereo vision systems to detect and avoid obstacles as it travels "on-the-fly."

During these tests, FIDO is powered by both solar panels that cover the top of the rover and by replaceable, rechargeable batteries.

Each weekday, SPACE.com looks back at the history of spaceflight through photos (archive).