NASA’s Mars Rover to visit North Point Mall

Futuristic prototype on display Aug. 12



ALPHARETTA, Ga. – The NASA Mars Rover concept vehicle is truly something (for going) out of this world. But earthlings may take a gander at it here in North Fulton.

The vehicle is touring the country on loan from the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex and will make a landing from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 12, at North Point Mall.

Visitors will have the chance to explore the Rover as part of NASA’s Journey to Mars this summer. The vehicle weighs 3 tons and stands nearly 11 feet tall, said North Point Mall marketing exec Natasha Suarez.

“It will be on display all day until 9 p.m. outside between the JCPenney store and Sears,” she said.

No worries if it rains because the display is under a tent.

The Rover was commissioned as a traveling exhibit to inspire the public about space exploration and interplanetary travel.

The one-of-a-kind vehicle was built by Cape Canaveral-based Parker Brothers Concepts with the guidance NASA engineers who supplied the science and specifications.

It is built to carry a crew of four, but it won’t set any speed records (except for on Mars where it will be No.1.)

The Mars Rover is constructed to cope with the climate, conditions and environment astronauts will find there.

Its dual purpose is to serve as a small scouting craft or a detachable 10-foot long full research laboratory. It has solar panels to power the lab.

Fifty-inch wheels are specifically designed to let the fine sands of Mars slip through their open sidewalls.

It runs on a 700-volt battery and is designed to travel over dunes, rocks, craters and hills at 2 mph to 4 mph.

NASA officials say this Mars Rover won’t ever get into space however.

It was created to be as realistic as possible but for educational purposes.

“No it won’t be making the trip to Mars,” said Lauren Walbert Feldman, senior vice president of Sandy Hillman Communications. “The tour is to help the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, which is completely self-funded, reach a new level of engagement with guests. Bringing the future of space exploration to life with the Mars Rover concept vehicle is a good way to do that.”

Visitors will be able to see the vehicle, learn about the materials used to build it and the custom features it employs to navigate the terrain.

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