CAPE CANAVERAL, FLA. -- NASA's Morpheus lander has arrived at the Kennedy Space Center for a series of tests that are expected to take about three months.
And there's a lot of 'morph' to Morpheus, according to NASA.
Morpheus is a prototype lander engineers can use to integrate technologies for future spacecraft that could land on a variety of destinations in our solar system.
The technologies include a new propulsion system that uses liquid oxygen and methane, two "green" fuels that could be manufactured on other planetary bodies.
Morpheus also is testing technology capable of identifying and avoiding surface hazards to enable a safe and accurate landing anywhere on a planetary surface and under any lighting conditions.
Morpheus is one of 20 projects comprising the Advanced Exploration Systems program in NASA's Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate.
These projects pioneer new approaches for rapidly developing prototype systems, demonstrating capabilities and validating concepts for future human missions beyond Earth orbit.
The lander underwent testing at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston for almost a year in preparation for its first free flight at Kennedy.
Once Morpheus has performed several successful free flights there, it will fly about a half-mile-long approach that simulates avoiding hazards in a landing field.
Teams have spent the last two months creating a hazard field of craters and rocks at the end of the runway of Kennedy's Shuttle Landing Facility.