Aug 02 2018

Build Your Own Mars Curiosity Rover Robot

Mars Curiosity Rover
ZDNet reports that NASA‘s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) has released plans for folks to make their own mini version of the Mars Curiosity Rover.

JPL has released designs and instructions on the now Microsoft-owned GitHub for building the mini rover that presumably will be mostly Earth-bound, rather than roaming over Mars or any other planet, unless you’re buddies with Elon Musk.

JPL released the instruction kit to show that it actually does take a rocket scientist to build one of these, but that those skills can also be learned by hobbyists and students.

“One would rightfully assume it takes expertise in mechanical engineering, software development, and electronics to even begin to construct such a complex robot,” JPL says in its announcement.

“Now students, hobbyists, and enthusiasts can learn about these skills and get a taste of what it is like to construct such a rover using plans and instructions from JPL’s Open Source Rover Project.”

In other words, this isn’t one of those tin can robot kits, because it’s from, like, NASA. But even if it isn’t something you can knock out in an hour, it’s still pretty cool of them to release it to the wild.

tin can robot

Also cool: the project is Raspberry Pi-based.

It won’t be cheap – the cost should be around $2500. But remember, we’re talking about a mini Mars Rover. You thought maybe it should be under ten dollars?

Source: ZDNet

Aug 31 2014

More Cool Space News

Ready for more cool space news? This Gizmodo headline had me at “hello world” — NASA Will Reformat Mars Rover’s Flash Memory From 125 Million Miles Away.

NASA Opportunity Rover

How neat is that? According to Gizmodo, “NASA’s Opportunity rover is still trundling across the surface of Mars… But its software is getting bogged down, so NASA’s doing a full system backup, memory wipe, and reboot. It’s just like your routine computer cleanup, just from the next planet over.”

The Rovers, Spirit and Opportunity (note to future Geek Gold Gard parents — good names for twins!) have 256MB of flash memory each.

Imagine it this way. It is the Dark Times, the days of Windows 95, 98, and (Lords of Cobol help us all) Windows ME. Eventually the computer running said operating systems becomes so filled with cruft that it is unusable. (To be fair, this happened to me recently with Windows 7, although that was more about the bloatware that came pre-installed on the laptop. But I digress.) You reformat the hard drive and re-install the OS. (In my case, after several years of this, you give up, buy a Mac, and become an iHole.)

Now imagine that you are doing something similar, but remotely. REALLY remotely. Like, you’re on Earth and the computer is on frickin’ MARS.

Remember, we promised to get more excited about space travel.

This XKCD comic was in the comments section on Gizmodo, but I’m reposting it here because (a) I can (XKCD is cool that way) and (b) it’s funny.

XKCD Spirit

NASA Will Reformat Mars Rover’s Flash Memory From 125 Million Miles Away – Gizmodo

Image via Wikipedia