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The red planet Mars could host human drivers in this NASA concept car. NASA has commissioned a rugged passenger-carrying rover designed with technology to tackle the planet’s hostile surface. Parkers Brothers Concepts built the concept car.

Otherworldy NASA concept car feels familiarly terrestrial

It’s easy to assume a vehicle designed for the surface of Mars would feel alien. NASA’s prototype feels oddly familiar with human touches. Firstly, a glovebox is included in the design. Secondly, a back seat adds a touch of home. The massive vehicle can accommodate three passengers; a pilot, a co-pilot, and a third party seated behind the crew.

The 2030 Rover Concept was built for research and exploration

The challenge of safely transporting humans across the surface of Mars is staggering. The planet is entirely inhospitable to human life. Temperatures on the surface plummet to -243 degrees Fahrenheit. High-tech insulation and multiple interior heaters maintain a comfortable temperature. A laboratory at the rear of the rover facilitates research.

The first company to build a car meant for the surface of Mars

Brothers Marc and Shannon Parker stand in the middle of a garage filled with replicas of famous cars from film. The bat-mobile, Ghostbusters station wagon and  a light cycle as featured in tron stand out
The Parker brothers in their shop | Ruaridh Connellan via Getty Images

Parker Brothers Concepts built the Martian car. The Parker brothers are best known for their work on 2010’s Tron: Legacy. They designed the light cycles featured heavily in the film. Notably, the rover’s wheels are nearly spherical, much like the bulbous fenders of the lightcycle.

Parker Brothers built the entire concept in less than five months. An incredible amount of work went into the vehicle. Each component was custom-made by hand.

Parker Brothers Concepts mentions dozens of employees who worked on the Mars rover project. It’s certainly worth taking a moment to appreciate the amount of labor behind the 2030 Mars Rover. 

NASA’s concept captures imaginations

Visitors of Kennedy Space Center were stunned by the concept car. The scale of this alien vehicle is the first thing that strikes spectators. The rover concept stands 11 feet tall. It’s 24 feet from end to end. Shoulder room abounds in this 13-foot wide behemoth.

Stephen Colbert and Neil Degrass Tyson famously took the rover for a spin. Consequently, science jokes and visible delight abound in the segment. Moreover, both men are caught up in the wonder and dream of planetary colonization. The design has exceeded its goal of inspiring humanity to look toward the red planet. 

How the car differs from NASA’s predictions about passenger vehicles on Mars

Also known as “The Moon Buggy,” the Lunar Roving Vehicle was the first human-crewed vehicle to travel the surface of another planet. In 1971 David Scott and Jim Irwin were the first humans to drive across another planet’s surface. More than anything, the Lunar Roving Vehicle resembled a go-kart with a minimalist design and open concept.

Conversely, this NASA concept car resembles a cross between an SUV and an armored vehicle. NASA hoped the concept car would inspire interest in the colonization of Mars. Though impractical, the concept car captures attention. In short, it’s unlikely a piloted rover would look exactly like the Parker brothers’ creation.