Airbus Group‘s defense and space business has opened a new facility that will test Europe’s ExoMars rover in a simulated Martian environment.
The Mars Yard is located at the Airbus division’s headquarters in Stevenage, England and will also be used to further develop the autonomous space vehicle’s navigation technology, Airbus said Thursday.
Alvaro Gimenez, a European Space Agency director; David Parker, U.K. Space Agency CEO; and Vince Cable, British secretary of state for business, officially opened the ExoMars simulation hub Thursday.
The simulator contains 300 tons of sand, a mural and interior features designed to mimic the landscape of the red planet, according to Airbus.
The European Space Agency plans to launch ExoMars in 2018.