Nissan unveils mobile space observatory: the Nissan Navara Dark Sky Concept

Nissan unveils mobile space observatory: the Nissan Navara Dark Sky Concept

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Nissan unveiled the out-of-this-world Nissan Navara Dark Sky Concept at the 2018 Hannover Motor Show, proving that the sky is never the limit.

The concept vehicle was developed in the UK in collaboration with the European Space Agency (ESA). It functions as a mobile astronomy lab. And it also features a world-leading, observatory-class telescope on a bespoke off-road trailer. As the latest embodiment of Nissan Intelligent Mobility, the vehicle comes with ProPILOT driver assistance technology. It has been upgraded to make it the most capable pickup for safe and convenient towing.

Nowadays ESA is mapping the stars with unprecedented precision. The Agency uses the Gaia satellite, which has already observed more than a billion stars.

Nissan Navara Dark Sky Concept
photo: Nissan

The Nissan Navara Dark Sky Concept supports this project

It helps astronomers conduct follow-up observations of the universe from hard-to-reach, so-called “dark sky” locations. These locations are away from the nighttime glow of urban areas, which decreases visibility.

The vehicle includes an array of smart features. They have gone through upgrades to meet the needs of commercial vehicle customers.

Nissan Navara Dark Sky Concept
photo: Nissan

ProPILOT enhances the driver’s control by combining Nissan’s Intelligent Cruise Control and Steering Assist technologies

This maintains the distance with the vehicle in front while keeping the car and rig centred during single-lane driving – even on curves.

The Intelligent Around View Monitor system has an upgrade to support towing. It gives the driver a bird’s-eye-view around the vehicle and rig as well as makes parking easier.

Blind Spot Warning has been enhanced to highlight objects in blind spots within the trailer range.

Intelligent Towing Hitch Alignment lets your car take control of steering, acceleration, braking and shifting. That allows it an automatic manoeuvring to align with the trailer for easy hookup.

Nissan’s portable battery packs utilize electric vehicle technology from the Nissan LEAF to ensure auxillary power supply, no matter how remote the location.

Nissan Navara Dark Sky Concept
photo: Nissan

At the heart of the trailer is the ultrahigh-power PlaneWave telescope

The new Nissan Intelligent Mobility technologies allow the transport of the telescope to wild, remote dark-sky locations.

“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,” said Dr Fred Jansen, ESA’s senior mission manager for Gaia. “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.”

Nissan Navara Dark Sky Concept
photo: Nissan

 

The design of the Nissan Navara Dark Sky Concept takes its inspiration from the cosmos. The dark exterior colour scheme features nebula motifs using parametric patterning. Meanwhile, the interior brings together the deep hues of the night sky with the orange shades of a setting sun. Reflective orange piping on the seats also provides visibility inside the vehicle. It negates the need for white lights that would disrupt the astronomer’s night vision.

Since red light affects human night vision least, both the vehicle and trailer exclusively use red lighting to avoid visual disruption during observations.

Nissan Navara Dark Sky Concept
photo: Nissan

Working closely with ESA, the trailer module also incorporates a special refrigerated atmosphere

That allows the telescope to remain stable and calibrated at the optimum temperature in transit to any location.

Once at the destination, the trailer module’s mechanical roof can open to focus the telescope on the night sky. Using a 40-centimetre (primary) mirror, it has the ability to give views with great details beyond the rings of Saturn, to distant galaxies, nebulae and supernovas.

The Nissan Navara Dark Sky Concept’s design puts business needs at the forefront. It has a secure towing hitch combined with a sturdy ladder-frame chassis as well as a 2.3-liter, 190 ps twin-turbo diesel engine. The and 450 Nm of torque enables the Navara to tackle rough terrain in remote areas while easily handling the telescope module’s weight.

The Navara and trailer both feature portable EV battery packs, putting to use the brand’s tried and tested electric-vehicle battery technology. When docked in place, the battery packs are constantly in charging mode while ready for use when required.

Nissan Navara Dark Sky Concept
photo: Nissan

Additional smart features include Wi-Fi, a laptop station and UHF transmission to relay data instantaneously, anywhere in the world

Eight combined radar units, on each corner of the vehicle and trailer, update the driver on the vehicle’s surroundings. That happens through the NissanConnect infotainment touchscreen on the dashboard.

These Nissan Intelligent Mobility technologies work together to make the Nissan Navara Dark Sky Concept the most intelligent pickup in its class for towing.

World-class Nissan Intelligent Mobility systems enable the Navara to manoeuvre the telescope trailer into prime position. Radar sensors and cameras scan the terrain for the right location to park and stabilize the trailer while in comparison with the standard Navara, the Nissan Navara Dark Sky Concept is higher. That creates extra ground clearance to enhance the vehicle’s “go anywhere” capability.

Following the Hannover Motor Show, Nissan will donate the telescope to pass on the spirit of exploration and adventure and to inspire and educate future generations.

 

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