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Driving NASA's Mars Rover Is A Little Different From An Aston Martin

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Endurance racing team visits the Kennedy Space Center en route to Sebring.

Aston Martin Racing's drivers are no strangers to handling extreme machinery in demanding conditions. They have, after all, won their class at Le Mans four times, and taken titles in a slew of endurance-racing series. But they got to experience a rather different set of wheels – three of them, in fact – in Florida recently.

While in town for the 12 Hours of Sebring this weekend, the British team detoured a couple of hours up-state to the Kennedy Space Center, where they got to experience NASA's new Mars rover concept first hand.

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The rover stands 24 feet long, 13 feet wide, and 10 1/2 feet tall. It has six wheels, seats for four, weighs some 5,500 pounds, and can top out at all of 6 miles per hour.

The Aston Martin Vantage GTE they're used to driving, on the other hand, stretches less than 15 feet long, barely more than 6 feet wide, and just over 4 feet tall. It has four wheels, one seat, and weighs all of 2,745 lbs – maybe less if it not for its regulation-mandated minimum weight. And you can bet it goes a lot faster than 6 mph.

In short, the vehicle NASA designed to be the first vehicle ever to transport human beings on the surface of another planet is a very different take on the one Aston Martin and Prodrive designed to tackle the FIA World Endurance Championship. So suffice it to say, it was a rather unusual close encounter of the third kind (or any other). And given that most of us will never drive either the Vantage GTE or the Mars rover, we're glad they brought a camera crew along to record the experience in this three-and-a-half-minute video.