Houston, We Have a Parking Problem [VIDEO]

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Sept. 7 2013 8:00 AM

Houston, We Have a Parking Problem

NASA's MMSEV
A somewhat more advanced version of NASA's MMSEV may explore other worlds.

Photo by NASA Johnson Space Center

Having driven around NASA’s Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston, Texas, I know how hard it can be to find a parking space, so I feel this guy’s pain.

Ha! That video was made by students at JSC as part of a fun, satirical video series (called "This is JSC") to promote NASA. The vehicle is called the Multi-Mission Space Exploration Vehicle, and is something like a concept car; a vehicle meant to stretch the imagination and test out some engineering ideas. In this case it’s built on lessons learned from the rovers on Mars and the ones used by Apollo astronauts on the Moon. The MMSEV can be used to explore the surface of other worlds, and the cabin can be modified to be used in space as well to transport astronauts and supplies.

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I saw this thing up close when we were filming “Bad Universe” in JSC’s huge Space Vehicle Mockup Facility. We didn't have a lot of time so I was only able to walk past it (there's a lot to see in that cavernous warehouse), and now I wish I had had more time to take a good look at it. It’s clearly a fascinating machine, and given the video, I think it would also prove useful in cities here on Earth, too. It’s no Urban Assault Vehicle, but I imagine it would have its advantages.

[P.S. This isn't the first time folks at JSC have made a funny video to do outreach. You may remember this one.]

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!