NASA’s Mars Curiosity Rover Can Be Yours!

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That’s right, NASA’s Mars Curiosity Rover can be yours — if you want to build and own a Lego version of it, anyway!

NASA has been in the news a lot, lately. There have been articles ranging from the huge amount of new information that’s being learned about Mars, the Red Planet, to their Asteroid Retrieval Program possibly being eliminated to make enough room in their budget to plan another manned voyage to the moon.

And now, what was perhaps the inevitable has happened: NASA’s Mars Curiosity Rover is being transformed into a very cool Lego toy! It’s both Fun and Educational — it’s Fun-cational –what more could a child or a science nerd who likes Fun-cational knick-knacks desire, other than one’s own fully functional nuclear reactor?

The Mars Science Laboratory robot was voted upon by thousands of fans to be designed in toy brick Lego form. It joins a host of other Red Planet spacecraft that have become popular playthings over the years, and graced countless college dorm rooms and scientific laboratories.

The Lego company is still accepting further ideas for future projects. That means if you go to their company website, you can submit your own ideas for Lego sets.

If enough other Legomaniacs agree with your idea — more than 10,000 others — then your idea will be forwarded to officials in the company for further consideration.

The LEGO version of the Mars Curiosity Rover was designed by Stephan Pakbaz. He’s a mechanical engineer who worked on the actual Curiosity while employed at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in  La Cañada Flintridge.

Just like the original Mars rover, the Lego  one has a rocker-bogie suspension system and a giant moving arm like the rover’s limb.

According to Pakbaz: “I combined this first-hand experience with my Lego hobby to create a Lego model that was as faithful to the actual rover as possible in terms of accuracy, details, and mechanical function, while remaining at a reasonable size and cost. The primary purpose of this effort has been to contribute to the educational outreach for this incredible mission.”

The Mars Curiosity Rover is still in the development stage. If it’s like past toys based upon Martian spacecraft,  it will likely be a big seller. Mattel’s Hot Wheels version of NASA’s Sojourner spacecraft in 1997 was a highly sought-after toy that soon sold out and became only available through scalpers.

Mattel announced plans to release a Hot Wheels version of the Mars Curiosity Rover, also, even before the vehicle safely landed and proved to be in working condition.

How much will the Lego version of the Mars Curiosity Rover cost? That has not been determined yet, as it’s still too far  in advance of when the toy will become available in stores nationwide.

You don’t want to wait until then? You can make one yourself, with existing Lego pieces,  by following a tutorial from Pakbaz himself.

LEGO has also worked with NASA on a series of outreach projects. These have included flying minifigures to Mars and Jupiter and launching construction sets to the International Space Station. NASA and LEGO also announced earlier this month a joint design contest for advanced aircraft and spacecraft.

Written by: Douglas Cobb

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