Nissan has unveiled the one-of-a-kind Nissan Navara Dark Sky Concept at the 2018 Hannover Motor Show which takes exploration to the next level.
Developed in the UK in collaboration with the European Space Agency (ESA), the concept vehicle functions as a mobile astronomy lab, featuring an observatory-class telescope on a bespoke off-road trailer.
ESA is mapping the stars with unprecedented precision using the Gaia satellite, which has already observed more than a billion stars.
The Nissan Navara Dark Sky Concept supports this project by helping astronomers conduct follow-up observations of the universe from hard-to-reach, so-called “dark sky” locations – away from the nighttime glow of urban areas, which decreases visibility.
“The Nissan Navara Dark Sky Concept is a brilliant example of Nissan serving as an authentic partner, empowering our customers to go anywhere,” said Ashwani Gupta, senior vice president of Nissan’s light commercial vehicle business.
“Through Nissan Intelligent Mobility and ProPILOT, we are creating the best solutions for the next frontiers of business, no matter how complex the commercial need.”
At the heart of the trailer is the ultrahigh-power PlaneWave telescope. The upgraded driver assist technologies allow the telescope to be transported 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 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.”
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, and 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, negating 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.
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Working closely with ESA, the trailer module also incorporates a special refrigerated atmosphere, allowing the telescope to remain stable and calibrated at the optimum temperature in transit to any location.
Once at the desired, often hard-to-reach destination, the trailer module’s mechanised roof can be opened to focus the telescope on the night sky.
Using a 40-centimetre (primary) mirror, it has the ability to give detailed views beyond the rings of Saturn, to distant galaxies, nebulae and supernovas.
The Navara is powered by a 2.3-litre turbo diesel engine producing 140kWof power and 450Nm of torque.