Last week, Hackaday had the chance to tour NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California. Tours are given all the time at JPL, but ours was special. Steve Collins invited us, and acted as our tour guide, and a new friendship with Michelle Easter got us a look inside the labs where equipment for the 2020 Mars mission is being built.
The Mars Science Laboratory hasn’t had her wheels down for a day and already the Curiosity-inspired builds are rolling in. [Will] and [Doug] built a LEGO model of the Curiosity rover for the Build the Future in Space event at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. Everything on this scaled-down version of Curiosity is completely made out of LEGO, including the four powered wheels, motorized mast, and articulated, controllable arm.
The LEGO rover contains 7 NTX bricks, 13 motors, two power function motors, and over 1000 pieces of LEGO held together without any glue. The rover is under remote control from two operators. The driver controls the rotation and direction of the four powered corner wheels, while another operator uses a Waldo-like manipulator built out of LEGO to move Curiosity‘s mast and arm. Each of these controls communicate with the rover over a Bluetooth connection.
We’ve been wondering when we would see a Curiosity-inspired rocker bogie bot, and we’re pleased as punch the first one just happened to be a LEGO build. Having [Will] and [Doug] time their submission to the Curiosity’s landing on Mars is the icing on the cake.
You can see the LEGO Curiosity in action after the break.
Since launching on November 26, 2011, the newest Mars rover Curiosity has been speeding towards the red planet. Its days in the harsh vacuum of space are numbered as Curiosity prepares to land in just a few hours.
The landing of Curiosity at Gale crater is scheduled to be received on Earth at Aug 5, 10:31 pm PDT / Aug 6, 1:31 am EDT / Aug 6, 5:31 am UTC. The latest updates on the success or failure of ramming into the Martian atmosphere should be available on NASA TV and this feed from JPL. There’s a huge bunch of feeds on spaceindustrynews.com, and of course the Twitter for the wonderfully anthropomorphized Curiosity.
If landing a Volkswagen-sized, nuclear powered robot on the surface of Mars isn’t cool enough, we’ll also see a picture of the descent from Martian orbit via the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. The Atlantic has a bunch of awesome pictures showing off Curiosity’s preparation for launch. Of course there are videos after the break including one by [Stan Love] explaining why it’s soooooo hard to get to Mars.