1. ITV Report

Space scientists test UK Mars Rover

UK's Mars Rover being put through its paces Photo: ITV Anglia

A warehouse in Hertfordshire is acting as a stand-in for the planet Mars.

As NASA prepares for its latest robot, the Curiosity Lander, to touch down on Mars on Monday, scientists at Astrium in Stevenage are testing their own Mars rover.

Nicknamed Bruno - it is designed to find out whether life could have existed on the Red Planet by drilling deep into the ground to look for signs of life in the past.

All eyes at Astrium in Stevenage will be watching Mars on Monday when NASA's Curiosity Rover is due to land. It will gather information about the planet's geology.

The Mars Express, which was developed by Astrium, is orbiting Mars and will be on hand to help NASA to beam data back to Earth. It was the spacecraft used to launch the ill-fated Beagle 2 mission led by Professor Coiln Pillinger from the Open University in Milton Keynes.

Bruno is part of the €1bn European ExoMars programme which is due to launch in 2018. Engineers at Astrium are currently working on the rover's navigation system. It takes around 20 minutes for a signal to be beamed between Earth and Mars - so steering the rover remotely is not an option. It is being programmed to recognise and avoid obstacles itself.