Skip to main content

This ExoMy Mars rover kit is a building project for the holidays

If you’re looking for a fun project for you or your kids this holiday season, then how about building a miniature “Mars rover”?

Don’t worry, the vehicle isn’t full size, and you don’t need millions of dollars to make it happen. You do, however, need access to a 3D printer as well as around $600 to purchase all of the necessary materials.

Created by the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Planetary Robotics Laboratory, the diminutive ExoMy rover is described as the younger sibling of the Rosalind Franklin ExoMars rover, which is set to launch to the red planet in 2022.

Once built, the vehicle stands at 42 centimeters high and includes many of the main features of its 2-meter-tall sibling, including a drill, solar panels across its back wings, and a camera mast. Of course, these features aren’t functional, which at least ensures your littl’un won’t be performing any impromptu drilling work around the house.

Some fun can be had steering the vehicle remotely using a gamepad, or web browser on a mobile device, and unlike the full-size rover, the ExoMy kit includes a “face” and several hats should you feel the need to make your rover look adorable.

The source code for the construction kit is available on GitHub, together with a step-by-step guide on how to put the various printed parts together.

3D print your own Mars rover with ExoMy

“We focused on making the design as affordable and accessible as possible,” ESA’s Miro Voellmy said in an article about the miniature rover. “It uses a Raspberry Pi computer and off-the-shelf electronic parts available online and at any hobby shop. Our hope is that school or university students will make their own ExoMy to become familiar with robotics and learn about the full-sized ExoMars rover.”

He added that the ExoMy rover is a work in progress, with people constantly offering their own suggestions on ways to enhance its design.

The ESA has a special website showing you how to get started on your building project.

The launch of ESA’s ExoMars rover mission has already slipped several times, the most recent change coming nine months ago when the launch date was pushed from this year to 2022. There are, however, three other missions currently heading toward the red planet, launched over the summer by the U.S., China, and the UAE. All three spacecraft are expected to arrive at the faraway planet in February 2021.

Editors' Recommendations

Trevor Mogg
Contributing Editor
Not so many moons ago, Trevor moved from one tea-loving island nation that drives on the left (Britain) to another (Japan)…
NASA Mars rover has discovered an alien rock
A meteorite discovered on Mars in 2023.

While NASA’s newer Perseverance rover usually gets all the headlines, 11-year-old Curiosity continues to trundle across the surface of Mars in search of interesting discoveries. And it’s just made one.

Ashley Stroupe, mission operations engineer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), which is overseeing the Curiosity mission, said on JPL’s website last month that the rover had happened upon a 1-foot-wide rock that “seems to have come from elsewhere.”

Read more
Perseverance rover experiment produces record amount of oxygen on Mars
In this image, the gold-plated Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment (MOXIE) Instrument shines after being installed inside the Perseverance rover.

Inside the belly of the Perseverance rover, currently exploring Mars's Jezero Crater, is a small box with a big job. The Mars Oxygen In Situ Resource Utilization Experiment or MOXIE aims to produce oxygen from Mars's abundant carbon dioxide, paving the way for providing resources for future crewed missions to the Red Planet.

In the summer of this year, MOXIE tested out its fastest production of oxygen to date, making more than 10 grams of oxygen per hour. The device works by taking in carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, using some electricity, and turning it into oxygen and carbon monoxide. The carbon monoxide can be released and the oxygen kept -- making the system like a fuel cell run in reverse.

Read more
NASA’s Mars rover makes ‘one small drop for humankind’
The first Mars rock sample left at a collection site by NASA's Perseverance rover.

NASA has taken a significant step forward in getting Mars samples back to Earth after its Perseverance rover deposited its first rock-filled tube on the martian surface for possible collection by a later mission.

Perseverance, which has been gathering samples from Mars since arriving there in February 2021, deposited the sample on Wednesday, December 21.

Read more