Nissan Navara/Frontier Dark Sky is a Functional Concept Truck That Tracks the Stars

Nissan has rolled out a new concept truck that we’ll never be able to buy, but this one isn’t like the paint and plastic-heavy concepts we see at auto shows that are all style and no substance. 

The Nissan Navara Dark Sky Concept made its debut at the 2018 Hannover Motor Show in Germany, and it will act as a mobile astronomy lab for the European Space Agency (ESA), allowing the agency to access so called “dark sky” location far away from the light pollution of any civilizations. The truck itself receives some special treatment, but it is the custom trailer that is truly the centrepiece of this concept.

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An ultrahigh-power PlaneWave telescope is at the heart of the trailer, surrounded by a refrigerated atmosphere to keep the telescope stable and calibrated. The trailer also has a mechanized roof that opens to allow the telescope to use its 40-centimeter primary mirror. The ESA says that this telescope can see to beyond the rings of Saturn and is working in conjunction with the Gaia satellite.

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

The actual truck takes its design cues from the cosmos with its dark colors combined with deep hues of oranges representing the setting sun. To keep everyone’s eyes adjusted to the dark, all of the interior lighting has been replaces with red lights.

The truck gets its power from a 187 horsepower turbodiesel engine with 331 lb-ft of torque.

To keep things running, a portable battery back is included on both the truck and trailer, and when docked, the packs are constantly charging off power produced by the engine. Another feature that could help in the exploration is available Wi-Fi.

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

“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.”

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We don’t get the Nissan Navara here in North America, but it won’t be long until a new Nissan Frontier is released to compete in the midsize market.