Video of the week: UK-built Mars rover test-driven from ISS

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This week’s video comes from Airbus Defence and Space’s terrestrial base in Stevenage where ESA astronaut Tim Peake successfully controlled a Mars rover from the International Space Station.

The Herts-based division of Airbus is home to the Mars Yard Test Area, which was the location for Peake’s remote manoeuvre of a prototype rover dubbed Bridget on April 29, 2016.

The Mars yard was split into lit and dark areas. From one end of the yard Bridget was commanded from the European Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt, Germany, until it reached the shaded area.

Control was then passed to Peake on board the ISS, who controlled Bridget to drive across the yard, avoiding obstacles and identifying potential science targets. Once the targets were identified and mapped, Peake drove the rover out of the shaded area and handed control back to ESOC, who drove the rover back to its starting point.

The experiment forms part of the European Space Agency’s METERON programme (Multi-Purpose End-To-End Robotic Operation Network), which is validating autonomous and real-time telerobotic operations from space to ground.