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Dyson and Pillinger miss out in Mars simulator comp

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Chris Dyson Architects (CDA) has narrowly missed out on winning a competition to design a new Mars surface simulator for the European Space Agency (ESA).

The London-based practice was pipped to the post by a German consortium understood to be made up of engineers and astrophysicists.

The victors will now draw up detailed plans for the new centre in The Netherlands, which will house a realistic mock-up of the Martian landscape.

CDA collaborated on the proposed scheme with British space scientist Colin Pillinger - the man behind the crashed Beagle 2 mission to Mars.

It is the second time the firm has worked alongside Pillinger, having already joined forces with the professor for its entry for the Halley VI Antarctic research station contest.

The surface simulator scheme would have featured a 30m-diameter dome with a moveable floor, viewing galleries and a circular ceiling onto which images of the Martian sky could have been projected.

Dyson said: 'The ESA wanted somewhere to be able to test its robots and landers on a realistic surface complete with rocks and boulders.

'Our scheme had room for a ring of boffins around this disc as well as areas for visitors to see into the dome.'

For an early concept sketch of the project see AJ 26.01.06.

by Richard Waite

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