Space trucking: Nissan unveils a mobile space observatory

Studying the skies to any great effect is usually done from huge observatories with enormous telescopes hidden inside. They cost millions and are often built in the middle of nowhere. That way it’s easier to get a better fix on what’s up there in the heavens by avoiding light pollution as much as possible. But, the downside is that they’re static and being stuck in one place offers less scope for astronomers.Now, though, there are moves afoot to let astronomers get their stargazing done using a mobile laboratory and it’s all based around a tough, go-anywhere off-roader. The Nissan Navara Dark Sky Concept is an idea that has been developed in the UK, in collaboration with the European Space Agency (ESA), and the eye-catching outcome is a pickup/trailer combination like no other.Escape the city lightsNissan’s Navara is already a firm favourite with pickup fans. The likes of builders and farmers in particular enjoy its high-rise, rugged characteristics. .

Increasingly though the likeable four-wheeler is being bought and driven by people who want a higher sitting position and off-road capabilities but a driving experience that’s not too far removed from a run-of-the mill saloon. That makes it the perfect platform for a mobile observatory.A crucial ingredient for the ESA project is the way this truck has been built to go just about anywhere. To get away from that all-pervasive light pollution and head right into the darkness you need a bit of kit to get you there without destroying the brittle lenses found in fragile telescopes. The Navara has big wheels and tyres, plus plenty of ground clearance, so ESA astronomers can now get their telescope wherever they want it without damage.Image 1 of 3Image 2 of 3Image 3 of 3Alongside being a practical solution to the problem the Dark Sky Concept Navara looks pretty cool too. While it might be designed to get a job done, the UK development team have had some fun along the way, adding tasty cosmetic touches including a funky exterior finish and lots of space-inspired bits and bobs on the inside. .

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