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The Puli rover is on its way to Mars

The Puli rover prototype is checked, packaged, and on its way to Mars - or rather the quite realistic Mars simulation experiment organized by the Austrian Space Forum. Our I2 rover will navigate an area of the Moroccan part of the Sahara during the simulation as if it were Mars, while other participants will be testing space suit simulators and other equipment for a future manned mission to our planetary neighbor. The simulation will take place in February, which is why all instruments are already collected and packaged, and are currently being shipped in cargo containers across the Mediterranean sea. Once the rover "lands" in the target area, Team Puli Space members will direct its actions from the the mission control center in Budapest like a real Mars mission.

puli displayed in Innsbruck


Last Christmas, members of Team Puli Space were busy preparing a large package. Unlike regular Christmas packages however, this one contained a whole rover prototype complete with spare parts and accessories for an entire Mars mission simulation. These preparations were done to be able to take part in in the MARS2013 simulation program Organized by the Austrian Space Forum (ÖWF). This is a month long experiment conducted in February 2013, where participants can test future space equipment in the Moroccan desert, as if it were the Martian surface. The unique testing opportunity provides much needed operational experience for future Mars equipment, as well as offering a chance to study the northern Sahara as a model region for Martian deserts or other extreme environments. About a hundred people from 20 different countries take part in the project, with tasks ranging from testing experimental Mars suits through trying out various rovers and exploring the environment, to simulating emergency situations.


the ÖWF team

The ÖWF team with three Puli team members in white in the middle
(c) OEWF (Katja Zanella-Kux)

Puli Space's I2 rover will use this opportunity to test its remote navigation system and solar panels, while exploring the desert. Although the I2 is actually a Moon rover prototype, this simulation environment is also similar to a Lunar mission in many aspects, and should therefore provide valuable information and experience for Team Puli Space. Most members of the team will take part in the mission from the control center to be built up in the City Hall in Budapest. Communication with the rover will be handled via ÖWF's system, which will introduce time delays as are to be expected during an actual space mission.

After a successful 'dress rehearsal'  in Innsbruck in early December, the Puli was placed into specially crafted boxes (courtesy of Pakflatt) and delivered with the help of Bautrans to meet with all other equipment shortly after Christmas. Since then, all collected equipment for the simulations was loaded into containers and is already arrived at Morocco.

the container ship carrying the puli

The I2 Puli sat in the blue container on the stern of Analena, a British container ship. You can monitor her route here.

Upon arrival, the equipment and all personnel will travel to a secret location in the Sahara, isolated from all earthly help, relying solely on the available equipment and the fragile satellite link to the control center. Team Puli is in full preparation for this exceptional mission, so stay tuned for more information.

Last Updated (Wednesday, 30 January 2013 15:23)

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