A Nissan pick-up truck has been transformed into a mobile space observatory, allowing astronomers to observe the night sky from remote locations.
The Nissan Navara Dark Sky Concept was unveiled today, Wednesday September 19, at Hannover Motor Show in Germany.
It tows a trailer, which holds a telescope that allows astronomers to see incredible views – including distant galaxies and supernovas.
In order for the telescope to remain stable, it is housed in a unique refrigerated atmosphere so that the temperature remains the same throughout it’s journey.
Once it’s reached its destination, the trailer’s roof then opens to allow the telescope to focus on the night sky.
The Nissan was developed in the UK in collaboration with the European Space Agency (ESA), which has so far mapped more than one billion stars using its Gaia Satellite.
Check out this video:
Fred Jansen, ESA’s senior mission manager for Gaia, said:
The Nissan Navara Dark Sky Concept allows observations to take place in very remote places, avoiding light pollution, while also transporting telescopes safely and easily.
Telescopes like the one in the trailer are needed in studies of planets and stars in our galaxy, allowing Earth-based follow-up campaigns enabled by the Gaia data.
Impressively, the Nissan has four-wheel drive, 20-inch wheels with off-road tyres and high-intensity headlights – meaning it’s able to negotiate tricky terrain. Its overall ride height has also been raised to ensure it has improved ground clearance.
Under the bonnet is a 2.3-litre twin-turbocharged diesel with plenty of pulling power to handle the trailer’s additional weight.
If (like me) you’re not a car expert, this probably sounds to you a bit like Science classes did in school – complete nonsense.
But even I can tell that the Nissan’s features are impressive, and they just seem to keep on coming!
Both the Navara and its trailer make use of Nissan’s electric-vehicle battery technology with portable EV battery packs. These are constantly in charging mode and ready for use, making life much easier for the astronomers.
Additional high-tech features include wi-fi, a laptop station and UHF transmission to relay data instantaneously to anywhere in the world.
Have I lost anyone yet?
The Navara has also catered for those of us who struggle with even a simple bay park (me again), as parking is made simple thanks to the cameras which give the driver a bird’s-eye-view around the vehicle.
More than this though, the Navara aids the driver in many more ways. First, by enhancing their control with the combination of Nissan’s Intelligent Cruise Control and Steering Assist technologies.
This maintains the distance with the vehicle in front while keeping the car and rig centered during single-lane driving – even on curves.
Additionally, eight radar units surround both the vehicle and trailer, updating the driver constantly on their surroundings through a touch screen on the dashboard.
Since red light affects human night vision least, both the vehicle and trailer exclusively use red lighting to avoid visual disruption during observations. Sounds like a dream, right?
But for me the most impressive part of the trailer is the ultrahigh-power PlaneWave telescope, which uses a 40-centimetre (primary) mirror to focus on the night’s sky.
Ashwani Gupta, senior vice president of Nissan’s light commercial vehicle business, said:
The Nissan Navara Dark Sky Concept is a brilliant example of Nissan serving as an authentic partner, empowering our customers to go anywhere.
Through Nissan Intelligent Mobility and ProPILOT, we are creating the best solutions for the next frontiers of business, no matter how complex the commercial need.
Nissan plans to work with ESA to donate the telescope as part of their educational outreach initiatives following the Hannover Motor Show.
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