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Mars Rover, Drone Prototypes Brave Iceland Winds

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The Canadian Space Agency Mars Exploration Science Rover in an Icelandic field, with Vatnajökull glacier in the background.

Credit: Gavin Tolometti

This summer, prototype rovers and drones designed to operate on Mars were tested in high winds and other harsh environmental conditions in Iceland.

Researchers from Canada's Western University used the vehicles to explore a lava flow.

Western's Catherine Neish said sites like Iceland feature a variety of habitats that resemble extraterrestrial locales, including lava flows, glaciers, and mountains.

Humans and robots surveyed the lava flow with a drone constructed by Honeybee Robotics and outfitted with a sample acquisition device, while drones from the University of Arizona and the Canadian Space Agency's Mars Exploration Science Rover also were present.

The team piloted the robots and drones with online support from the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

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