A Mars rover designed in Stevenage has undergone tests in a Milton Keynes quarry.

The event took place on Thursday, September 29, and marked the first time that all of the rover's systems were tested simultaneously.

The quarry was chosen to test the Sample Fetch Rover (SFR), as it provides "a unique and dynamic landscape that cannot be replicated within the Mars Yard test facility at Stevenage".

The SFR was created by Airbus and the European Space Agency (ESA).

According to Airbus quarry testing is an essential next step in the development process.

The SFR is designed to plot its path around a terrain "and then head off" - avoiding gullies, rocks and other land features in the process.

The rover also uses a "visual based detection system", meaning that there is no need for human intervention.

This is particularly useful, given that radio transmissions can take up to 45 minutes to travel from Earth to Mars and back.

The Comet: The rover is believed to be up to six-times faster than Airbus' previous design.The rover is believed to be up to six-times faster than Airbus' previous design. (Image: Airbus)

The SFR was also built to build on technologies developed for Airbus' previous design, the ExoMars rover.

Using four wheels instead of six, the SFR is believed to be up to six-times faster than ExoMars.

The rover was initially intended to collect sample tubes left on the surface of Mars by Perseverance - a rover sent to the planet by NASA in 2020.

This mission was set to launch in 2026.

This plan was suspended in August, with Perseverance, already collecting samples on Mars, now set to retrieve the samples itself.

A NASA spokesperson confirmed that "the campaign will no longer include the Sample Fetch Rover", and that the decision "takes into consideration a recently updated analysis of Perseverance's expected longevity".

However, the SFR has now been re-purposed and could be used on the Moon instead.

According to Airbus "some plans are being drawn up" with regards to Europe and US lunar programmes.

A spokesperson for Airbus said: "Airbus has built up skills and expertise on interplanetary rovers over the last 20 years and is looking to ensure this surface mobility capability, that could also be used on the Moon, is maintained for the UK space sector."