Of course, this is not really part of the nine-month trip of the ExoMars rover of the European Space Agency (ESA) to Mars, but it is where the vehicle will receive crucial tests, before leaving for space.
The first planetary rover in Europe, called "Rosalind Franklin", has been built and taken the next step towards space travel. The UK Airbus engineers showed the finished vehicle, scheduled to launch in July 2020, before sending it on its trip.
The rover has a clear mission: to discover if there is life on Mars.
"Seeing the Rosalind Franklin rover finally leave Airbus in Stevenage is a great moment, and I would like to thank all the teams involved for their efforts to make this happen," said Colin Paynter, managing director of Airbus Defense and Space UK.
The rover itself is a complicated combination of instruments, all tuned to help scientists explore the Martian surface step by step.
It is equipped with a 2-meter (6.6-foot) drill to help dig beneath the surface of Mars and discover parts of the planet unharmed by radiation. It is believed that the surface of Mars is very radioactive, which means that life on the surface is unlikely to be found.
And last week, the rover's eyes were tight. Or more precisely, the cameras that will help the vehicle to see and look for signs of life.
The central design of the panoramic camera system called PanCam came from a team at University College London (UCL), who told CNN that his hard work was actually "surprisingly simple."
However, they had to overcome many challenges to design three cameras capable of resisting a trip to Mars.
If radiation and distance are not a sufficient concern, temperatures on Mars can drop to -130 degrees Celsius (184 ° F) at night and rise to 20 ° C (68 ° F) during the day, according to Mary Carter, Pan-Cam project manager.
In Toulouse, the rover will be tested to ensure that it can survive its launch from Earth next summer and the extreme weather conditions of Mars when it lands on the planet in March 2021.
The United Kingdom Space Agency, the second largest European contributor to the ExoMars mission, having invested € 287 million ($ 318 million), praised the completion of the rover.
"While we deliver the rover to France for the final tests, we must celebrate the enormous efforts of the hundreds of people across the UK who have been involved in the design and construction of the rover and its instruments," said Dr. Graham Turnock , CEO of the United Kingdom Space Agency, said.
While the rover is only moving among European countries now, there is a real anticipation that discoveries can be made when he finally makes the trip to another planet.
"We are eager to complete the final rounds of testing before the rover is declared ready for the flight and closed inside the landing platform and the descent module that will take you safely to the surface of Mars," said Dr David Parker, director of humans and robots. exploration at the European Space Agency, he said.