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This Nissan Navara is a rolling space observatory

The so-called Dark Sky Concept can track stars far, far away

The livery is actually nice. Maybe Nissan will offer a version of it for some special-edition Navara. PHOTO FROM NISSAN

The car industry constantly produces concept vehicles that are merely designed to impress and drop jaws. Nissan’s latest—the Navara Dark Sky Concept—is also both impressive and jaw-dropping, but it’s so much more than just that. It serves a real-world (more like extraterrestrial) purpose. It’s actually a mobile space observatory developed in the UK with the European Space Agency.

This Navara would look good on any off-road terrain. PHOTOS FROM NISSAN

As such, this vehicle comes with a trailer that carries an “ultra-high-power” telescope made by PlaneWave Instruments. Now, why does a space-observing telescope need to be towed by a pickup truck? According to a press statement from Nissan, it’s because the optical instrument needs to be brought to remote, dark locations—away from the disruptive glow of urban civilization.

Are the stars out tonight? I don’t know if it’s cloudy or bright, because I only have eyes for you. PHOTOS FROM NISSAN

And because this rolling observatory will be driven through dark places, the Nissan Intelligent Mobility suite of driving aids will come in handy, helping the driver steer clear of hard-to-see objects in the Navara’s path. After all, you wouldn’t want to damage the vehicle’s handsome 20-inch wheels.

This badass 20-inch wheel makes our eyes very happy. PHOTO FROM NISSAN

From the press document:

Once at the desired, often hard-to-reach destination, the trailer module’s mechanized roof can be opened to focus the telescope on the night sky. Using a 40cm (primary) mirror, it has the ability to give detailed views beyond the rings of Saturn, to distant galaxies, nebulae and supernovas.

The astronomy lab on wheels draws juice from Nissan’s proprietary xStorage power packs, “putting to use the brand’s tried-and-tested electric-vehicle battery technology.” Other features include Wi-Fi, a laptop station and UHF transmission.

Not your ordinary cargo bed, obviously. It’s very special. PHOTOS FROM NISSAN

“The Navara Dark Sky Concept is a brilliant example of Nissan serving as an authentic partner, empowering our customers to go anywhere,” Ashwani Gupta, Nissan’s senior vice president of its light commercial vehicle business, is quoted by the press statement as saying. “Through Nissan Intelligent Mobility and ProPilot, we are creating the best solutions for the next frontiers of business, no matter how complex the commercial need.”

The Nissan Intelligent Mobility driving aids will help make motoring in the dark easier to do. PHOTOS FROM NISSAN

The attention to detail on (and in) this vehicle is exceptional. The seats, for instance, have reflective orange piping and accents to enhance visibility inside the cabin without the use of lights that could otherwise “disrupt the astronomer’s night vision.”

The orange accents enhance visibility inside the cabin. PHOTOS FROM NISSAN

Finally, a true go-anywhere pickup truck that’s not just for show. May we see more of these practical mean machines in the coming days.



Vernon B. Sarne

Vernon is the founder and editor-in-chief of VISOR. He has been an automotive journalist for 24 years. He became one by serendipity, walking into the office of a small publishing company and applying for a position he had no idea was for a local car magazine. The rest, as they say, is rock and roll. He writes the column ‘Spoiler’.



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