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Next-generation lunar rover to help fete Obama's inauguration


Tomorrow's inaugural parade in Washington, D.C., will offer space buffs a glimpse into the future: NASA's next-generation moon vehicle, the Lunar Electric Rover (LER), will roll down Pennsylvania Avenue to honor the incoming prez.

The LER is a 12-wheeled concept vehicle designed to accommodate two astronauts for extended periods of lunar exploration. (The U.S. is tentatively aiming for a 2020 return to the moon, but that timeline will depend on the direction Barack Obama chooses to take with NASA.) The rover's cabin, which is equipped with bedding and sanitary areas, can support journeys of up to 14 days, and it is pressurized to allow for the astronauts to work without spacesuits.

According to a NASA press release, the LER will capture video of the inaugural parade with an onboard camera, and a member of the rover team will be reporting live via Twitter. Let's hope those tweets don't get bogged down by the wireless "traffic jam" that's expected as millions flock to the capital to witness the beginning of the historic new presidential administration.

Photo of LER in testing in Arizona courtesy of NASA

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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