Airbus Mars Yard Backdrop

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Airbus Defence and Space opens state-of-the-art extended Mars Yard rover test area

Airbus Defence and Space opened a new state-of-the-art extended Mars Yard test area at its Stevenage site. The facility was opened by Secretary of State for Business Vince Cable.

The test area measuring 30m by 13m will facilitate final development of autonomous navigation system. Simulated Mars environment mimics conditions on the Red Planet with 300 tonnes of sand. The walls, doors, and all interior surfaces are painted a reddish-brown colour mimicking the background colour on Mars, and the yard also includes a large mural of the Martian landscape. These features ensure the rover navigation cameras see as realistic a Martian landscape as possible.

Characters Signs were asked to come up with a solution for the “Mars-scape” back drop, taking on board all the criteria a fabric tensioned banner was proposed. A high quality image of Mars landscape was supplied and printed directly to a special fabric. The main wall measured 30.3 x 3.5m, and the image was installed in one piece. The fabric was held under tension within an aluminium frame to create an unbroken, perfectly smooth image of the mars landscape.

The Mission

The ExoMars programme comprises two missions: the first – the Trace Gas Orbiter – launched in 2016 while the second, carrying the Rosalind Franklin rover, will target launch in 2028. Together they will address the question of whether life has ever existed on Mars.

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Hertfordshire County Council
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ACO Technologies
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