STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Students, hobbyists and enthusiasts can now build a scaled-down version of the Mars rover using plans and instructions from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s (JPL) Open Source Rover Project.
The laboratory has built a mini-rover –“ROV-E” — to engage the public, and the model has been brought into classrooms and museums to demonstrate rover mobility firsthand.
In response to the enthusiasm of the mini-rover, JPL engineers designed a rover model that could be assembled from commercial, off-the-shelf parts for $2,500.
The JPL Open Source Rover is a scaled-down version of the rover called Curiosity, which successfully landed on Mars six years ago.
JPL published the design under an open source license on GitHub, where users can download the baseline instructions and test plans to build their own rover.
“We wanted to give back to the community and lower the barrier of entry by giving hands-on experience to the next generation of scientists, engineers and programmers,” said Tom Soderstrom, project sponsor for the Open Source Rover, in a press release.
While instructions are detailed, builders can make their own design choices, such as choosing what controllers to use and adding USB cameras or solar panels.
Test builds of this rover have already been constructed inside classrooms, leading to different designs and ideas.
“It was an extremely rewarding experience getting to work with the high school teams testing the build process,” said Eric Junkins, JPL Open Source Rover designer and engineer. “They had a ton of great ideas and were so enthusiastic about getting involved in robotics and STEM in general. It was exactly what we were hoping to inspire with this project.”
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