My visit on Mars (in Rio Tinto, Earth)

During the weekend April 23/24, 2016, I had the great pleasure to visit the Mars analogue simulation site of the MoonWalk project in Rio Tinto, Spain. This is a consortium of European institutions and commercial companies preparing important components for future space exploration endeavours on the surface of Moon and Mars – all supported by the European commission. Additionally training procedures are tested with the help of the produced hardware.

For more information about the MoonWalk consortium please visit their website: .

In the following we would like to introduce the main test articles used during the MoonWalk field simulations in Rio Tinto. Let us start with the robotic rover called YEMO.


The YEMO robotic rover in a basic configuration. Some of its special features are that in can be gesture controlled by an astronaut and that it can work under water. I had the pleasure to be on-board a few times.

The YEMO rover is a very special machine developed by a team of the DFKI (Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Künstliche Intelligenz – German Research Centre for Artificial Intelligence) Bremen. It has many astonishing capabilities. Among other features, it can map the landing site and identify any obstacles on the surface that may impede the mobility of the rover and the astronaut. Additionally it is equipped with a weather station and is recording parameters like temperature, wind speed and humidity.

The most astonishing feature of YEMO is its capability to be gesture controlled by an astronaut. The astronaut can guide YEMO with movements of her/his arm. To enable this gesture control there are three motion sensors connected to the arm of the astronaut. I had the privilege to take part in the initial field tests of this feature. I have prepared a short video about these tests:

I really like this gesture control. With it YEMO becomes in some way a companion to the astronaut during his excursion on the surface of Moon or Mars. Cool stuff!

Part 2: The SHEE habitat

More to come …

We will also report about the SHEE habitat and for sure about the Gandolfi 2 space suit of COMEX Marseille.


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