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Nissan Navara Dark Sky Concept turns pick-up into mobile observatory

Dark Sky Concept adds a telescope to double cab pick-up for remote observation of the stars

Nissan has revealed its latest concept truck based on the Navara pick-up. The Dark Sky Concept is a chunky update of the double cab truck that adds a custom-built trailer featuring a telescope that turns the Navara into a mobile observatory. The concept has been designed in conjunction with the European Space Agency (ESA), and is designed to venture off-road to so-called 'Dark Sky' regions; places that aren't subject to the light pollution that urban areas throw up, making it easier to observe the stars and galaxies in the Milky Way.

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Nissan has incorporated its Intelligent Mobility philosophy into the design of the Navara Dark Sky Concept, with an uprated suite of driver aids that have been modified to account for the four-metre long trailer that has been specially constructed for the Dark Sky Concept. Nissan's ProPILOT driving assistant, with adaptive cruise control and lane assist, is included, as is the 360-degree Around View camera system from the Navara Tekna. Blind spot monitoring and a self-hitching trailer system are also included.

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Another highlight is an auxiliary power system that uses battery packs that are similar to those used in the Nissan Leaf EV. This ensures that power is available wherever the telescope is set up, even in the remotest of locations. Wi-fi, a UHF transmitter, laptop station and eight radar units around the truck help users to locate their position and transmit data.

The Navara itself is mechanically unchanged, but gets a custom paint job, bigger wheels and tyres, a raised ride height and custom roof rails and roll bar in the pick-up bed. Inside, there's dark blue leather with orange highlights, while red lights are fitted around the truck so that users can find their way in the dark without affecting their ability to use the telescope. 

The paint job and wheels are also applied to the temperature-controlled trailer, which is designed to keep the telescope at an optimal operating temperature. Mechanical covers open to reveal the 40cm PlaneWave telescope, which is powerful enough to pick out the rings of Saturn. The objective of the Dark Sky Concept is for scientists to back up observations made by the ESA's Gaia satellite telescope, and the Navara and its contents will be donated to the ESA to continue its research.

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Senior test editor

Dean has been part of the Auto Express team for more than 20 years, and has worked across nearly all departments, starting on magazine production, then moving to road tests and reviews. He's our resident van expert, but covers everything from scooters and motorbikes to supercars and consumer products.

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