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NASA's ATHLETE warms up for high desert run

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Engineers test the ATHLETE moon rover on one of the long dirt roads found just outside JPL. NASA photo

PASADENA, CALIFORNIA (BNS): NASA engineers are currently putting their All-Terrain, Hex-Limbed, Extra-Terrestrial Explorer (ATHLETE) through a series of long-drive tests on long dirt roads.

The engineers want to test the moon rover's ability to meet a NASA milestone of travelling at least 40 kilometers (25 miles) over 14 days under its own power.

The official demonstration is slated to begin in the Arizona high desert in August.

ATHLETE is a 1/2-scale working prototype of a robot under development to transport habitats and other cargo on the surface of the Moon or Mars.

The ATHLETE concept is a level cargo deck carried by six wheels, each on the end of a configurable leg. The prototype stands approximately 4.5 meters (15 feet) tall and 4.5 meters (15 ft) wide and weighs about (about 2,300 kilograms (2.5 tons). The robot moves relatively slowly, with a top speed during traverse of approximately 2 kilometers per hour (1.25 mph).

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