NASA has shown off a futuristic-looking concept of the Mars 2020 rover with a shiny black body and intimidating wheels at the Kennedy Space Center. If you're thinking that it looks like it popped right out of a superhero movie or a shiny video game than an actual vehicle meant to explore the red planet, then you're right. The agency isn't quite done conjuring up a final design for the vehicle: this 28-foot-long machine was actually created as a showpiece for its "Summer of Mars" program. NASA says it might take a couple of elements from this concept, though, perhaps to add a dash of panache to the actual rover.
Even though the actual Mars 2020 will not look exactly like this, its creators didn't build it blindly: They conjured up the concept with the help of NASA's subject matter experts. They came up with the design knowing that the front area will be equipped with radio and GPS and that the detachable back will serve as a mobile laboratory. Mars 2020 will drill into the planet's surface to look for signs of past life and will determine whether future human settlers can take advantage of Martian resources like water and oxygen.
NASA Kennedy's PR assistant manager Rebecca Shireman described "Summer of Mars" as an "all-encompassing effort to review the history of our efforts to explore Mars and look ahead to what is being planned." She said it's meant to "encourage young people to want to learn more about being a part of the effort to go to Mars." That's why the concept will tour the East Coast from July to August -- keep an eye out for the locations where you'll be able to see it for yourself. It will make its way back to the Kennedy Space Center after its tour, though, since it's slated to be part of an Astronaut Training Experience attraction launching this fall.