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Photos: Europe's Mars Rover Prototype Takes a Test Drive

Bridget Rover Side View

ESA/M. van Winnendael

A rover named Bridget (provided by Astrium, Stevenage in the UK) is being tested in the Atacama Desert close to ESO's Paranal Observatory. Bridget is part of the SAFER field trials — Sample Acquisition Field Experiment with a Rover. Image released Oct. 14, 2013.

Mars Rover Tested Near Paranal Observatory

ESO/G. Hudepohl

Bridget the rover, pictured here with Paranal Observatory in the background. ESA's 2018 ExoMars mission is acting as the reference mission for the trial. Image released Oct. 14, 2013.

ESA's Rover Tested

Mark Woods/Scisys

A rover named Bridget (provided by Astrium, Stevenage in the UK) is being tested in the Atacama Desert close to ESO's Paranal Observatory. Image released Oct. 14, 2013.

ESO Engineers Inspect Bridget Rover

ESO/G. Hudepohl

A rover named Bridget (provided by Astrium, Stevenage in the UK) is being tested in the Atacama Desert close to ESO's Paranal Observatory. Bridget is part of the SAFER field trials — Sample Acquisition Field Experiment with a Rover. Image released Oct. 14, 2013.

SAFER Rover

Astrium/E. Allouis

The Bridget rover, supplied by Astrium Stevenage in the UK, was used in the five-day SAFER field trial in the Atacama Desert, fitted with prototype ExoMars instruments. It was fed instructions from a Remote Control Center based in Harwell, UK.

Video Wall in Remote Control Center

SCISYS/Mark Wood

The rover being tested during the five-day SAFER field trial in Chile’s Atacama Desert was overseen from a Remote Control Center in the Satellite Applications Catapult facility in Harwell, UK, with a video wall used to display data from the rover and digital maps in order to plan its activities. Image released Oct. 16, 2013.

Rock Upended by Bridget Rover

Astrium/B. Allouis

A valuable element of ESA's five-day SAFER field trial in the Atacama Desert was its unpredictability: a flat rock that was suddenly flipped by the passage of the rover’s front wheel to potentially threaten Bridget’s clearance was one unexpected problem – providing useful food for thought for rover designers and operators. Image released Oct. 16, 2013.

Digging for Bedrock in the Atacama Desert

ESA/Michel van Winnendael

The SAFER field trial in Chile's Atacama Desert used ESA’s ExoMars rover as its reference mission, which will include a drill to probe beneath the surface of Mars. SAFER’s test rover was not equipped with a real drill, however, so the field team had to dig a hole in the white area of the SAFER Valley test site to reach bedrock for sampling. Image released Oct. 16, 2013.

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