Open Source Rover

We decided to build a rover! The Caltech/Jet Propulsion Laboratory has put out plans for the Open Source Rover, which is a mini version of the Mars Curiosity rover. Check them out! My husband and I decided to build one because I am a nerd for space robots, and we both like making things. We thought it would be fun to bring out into the desert when we go camping, and maybe I’ll even do some field research with it eventually. I end up doing a lot of science outreach activities as well, and who wouldn’t love getting to drive a ‘lil rover! The rover is well designed, and the instructions are very detailed and thorough. They tried to keep the costs down to enable school groups, maker spaces, and other interested folks to build their own. There is also an active user forum where builders can discuss problems, modifications, and other rover topics with each other and the rover developers. So far, it’s been a great experience and I’m looking forward to getting to know some of the other builders.

Last year Mars had a giant dust storm that forced all the active surface rovers to hunker down. Unfortunately, one of the rovers did not wake back up. NASA officially declared the mission of Opportunity, one of the Mars Exploration Rovers, to be complete. Opportunity was a fantastic little rover- it’s nominal mission duration was 90 days, and instead it lasted about 15 years. Talk about a well-built machine, and a rover that stole our very hearts. So I guess building my own rover also seemed like a timely project.

While I have a lot of craft robots, but I’ve never built a robot before so it will be a good project for building new skills! I’ll be keeping track of the build over on the PARSLEE main page, and you can see my tweets (@spacejammie) using the hashtag #roverbuild and #PARSLEE.