When the Curiosity rover landed on Mars earlier this month, the world couldn't get enough of the six-wheeled dynamo.
(Credit: Stephen Pakbaz)
Mass adoration for the roving Martian also successfully propelled a pet project by mechanical engineer Stephen Pakbaz, who submitted a miniature version of the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover last November to Cuusoo, a site officially created by Lego that lets fans vote on brick-based concepts (similar to Kickstarter). If a proposition gets 10,000 votes, then "a Lego jury evaluates the idea's feasibility as a product and makes a decision".
Pakbaz previously worked on the actual Curiosity rover at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and spared no details in his Lego version of the vehicle. The Lego rover features a working suspension system, fully articulated arm and deployable mast. Rock-vaporising laser not included.
It took nearly 10 months for the miniature rover to receive the requisite number of votes (the project passed last Saturday), with most of the support coming after the successful Mars landing and a recent well-placed front-page post on Reddit.
"The primary purpose of this effort has been to contribute to the educational outreach for this incredible mission," Pakbaz said on Cuusoo. "It is my hope that this model encourages the public support that is integral to the continued development and exploration of outer space."
Those who are impatiently awaiting the debut of the Lego Mars rover can skip ahead and build it now with these step-by-step instructions (PDF).