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PF-controlled motorized 1:12 Mars Science Laboratory rover (aka Curiosity)
PF-controlled motorized Mars Science Laboratory rover (aka Curiosity) at 1:12 scale with functioning rocker-bogie suspension, robotic arm, instrument turret, and high-gain antenna gimbal.
About this creation

On this page
About Curiosity (aka MSL)
MOC overview in photos and text
Rocker-bogie suspension sequence
MSL in context: Mount Sharp diorama
Table of features and stats




Of all my MOCs, I'm most proud of this one. For starters, it was a very tough build requiring many, many hours of research and attention to many small (bar-scale) complex features. But there's another reason: This latest Mars rover, popularly known as "Curiosity", made me proud to be a human again.

About Curiosity (aka MSL)
For my money, Curiosity and its almost unbelievable entry, descent, and landing (EDL) scheme are together greatest and most daring feat of engineering in history. (I'll only make mention of the EDL here and there. By far the best way to appreciate it -- especially the final SkyCrane stage -- is to catch NASA's pre-flight animation on YouTube. The actual EDL went down exactly as shown.) Curiosity and its EDL resulted from the coordinated efforts of over 10,000 scientists, engineers, technicians, and fabricators representing many different countries and ethnicities over a 10 year period.

Curiosity's revolutionary EDL sequence paved the way for much heavier landed payloads to come, and much of the rover is revolutionary as well -- including the extremely miniturized mineralogical and chemical analyzers within its hull. (These are respectively called "CheMin" and "SAM", the latter for "Sample Analysis on Mars". Normally, the equipment needed to perform the same analyses would fill a large room.) Save for one small weather instrument, every one of MSL's many complex subsystems has performed flawlessly -- not just in pre-flight tests, mind you, but on the hostile, rover-killing planet we call Mars, never closer than 54 million km and 3 radio minutes away.


It's just a saying, right?

Before gushing on about Curiosity, a word about NASA mission and rover names: Officially, the NASA mission behind Curiosity is "Mars Science Laboratory" (MSL for short), and Curiosity, the "Mars Science Laboratory rover". The "laboratory" part refers to the onboard ChemMin and SAM analyzers noted above. Traditionally (and partly for PR reasons), Mars rovers take popular names usually selected from student essay contests, and "Curiosity" was no different. NASA folks, however, refer to Curiosity simply as "MSL", and that's what I'll do hereafter. MSL's much smaller immediate predecessors, the twin rovers popularly known as "Spirit" and "Opportunity" flew under the auspices of the "Mars Exploration Rover" (MER) mission and were formally just "MER-A" and "MER-B", respectively.

MSL landed in the NW sector of Gale Crater on August 6, 2012, well within its intended 7x20 km landing ellipse. Its over-arching science mission is (i) to gather remote sensing data, (ii) to collect rock and soil samples chosen by its handlers, and (iii) to analyze those samples right there on Mars to a degree never before possible -- all with one primary question in mind: Was Mars was ever habitable to life? Mars clearly had water in liquid form -- the sine qua non of any conceivable life form -- at its surface until about 3 billion years ago. Hence, any life it might have harbored probably predated that, and probably never advanced past microbial stage in any event. Secondary mission objectives include collection of geological data bearing especially on the history of surface water on Mars and meteorological data on current atmospheric conditions.

Toward those ends, MSL must function as a largely autonomous robotic field geologist, advanced imaging and remote sensing platform, sophisticated chemical and mineralogical laboratory, weather station, and advanced telecommunications station on wheels. Its ultimate sample collection targets are what appear to be water-laid layered sedimentary rocks rich in clays and sulfates at the foot of Mount Sharp, Gale Crater's somewhat enigmatic central mound. Curiosity is to drill powder samples from these rocks and transmit the analyses back to Earth -- without getting trapped in soft soil (as Spirit did in May, 2009) along the way. Much of its mobility system design centers on avoiding that fate.

Note that MSL has no drivers with joysticks at its mission control center, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, CA. Most of the time, it just receives commands each evening giving the next day's destination and approximate route. MSL is then expected to get there on its own without getting into trouble, but always has the option to stop and phone home when it senses that something's amiss. Science and engineering teams pore over the data as it comes in -- the scientists choosing imaging, remote sensing, and sampling targets as they arise, and the engineers identifying low-risk routes and hazards to be avoided ahead. MSL also spends a good bit of time taking engineering selfies to check for physical damage and other potential problems.

MSL's not pretty. Rather, it represents a complete triumph of function over form. If anything about it looks cool, it's only because that form happens to work best. Consider the wheels, which many find cool-looking -- largely, I think, because they resemble race car wheels in their extremely low aspect ratio (diameter/width). Their appearance, however, was dictated almost entirely by the need to avoid the fate of Spirit, which became permanently trapped in soft sand in May, 2009. (By then, both Spirit and Opportunity had already had several very close calls.) Their exact proportions emerged from complex calculations taking into account things like the rover's weight on Mars, its overall dimensions, desired ground clearance, the steepest slopes to be negotiated, the highest obstacles to be mounted, and, most of all, the sinkages to be expected (often from hard experience) in known Martian soil types. Had these calculations called for tall, skinny wheels, that's what MSL would be sporting. Having no need for streamlining, MSL can look as angular, awkward, and gangly as it needs to be to carry out its mission. It never flew uncovered, and though it faces ferocious winds daily, their threat to its many decidedly unaerodynamic appendages is greatly diminished by the thinness of the Martian atmosphere.

Modeling goals
My task, then, was to model MSL's most mission-critical functions and features as best I could, with more commitment to function than to form, but with a strong commitment to proper 1:12 scaling wherever possible. In many respects, modeling at 1:8 or even 1:10 scale would have been much easier.

Below are the features I chose to model. Unless noted otherwise, they turned out reasonably well:
  • Scaling: Within 5% of 1:12 scale on nearly everything except the wheels (no way to match the aspect ratio at 1:12) and the instrument turret, which bristles with many small but functionally important details and ended up closer to 1:10.

  • Mobility system: All 6 wheels driven (but none steered; hence, 6x6x0 rather than MSL's 6x6x4 platform, as it was impossible to steer the corner wheels at 1:12 scale); otherwise fully functional rocker-bogie suspension. Like MSL, model can surmount step-like obstacles ~1.5 times taller than its wheels.

  • Instrument mast: Motorized head rotation with manual tilt and decent representations of ChemCam, MastCams, NavCams, REMS probes, and neck flex spool.

  • Robotic arm: Manual operation of all 5 degrees of freedom (DOFs) with good position-holding ability. All joint actuators and flex spools are represented.

  • Instrument turret: All 3 tools (percussion drill, CHIMRA, DRT) and both scientific instruments (APXS, and MAHLI camera).

  • Hull front panel features: Observation tray, sample playground, spare drill bit boxes, organic check sample cannisters, robotic arm mount.

  • Lower hull features: Front and rear HazCams.

  • Antennas: All 3 (low-gain, high-gain, and UHF), with working manual high-gain antenna azimuth-elevation gimbal.

  • Main deck features: ChemMin and SAM sample inlets, robotic arm cable harness and mount, RAD aperture, pyrotechnic control box, sundial, SkyCrane cable attachments, differential arm.

  • Nuclear power supply (MMRTG): Core, cooling fins with proper 8-fold rotational symmetry, heat exchange panels.

  • Mount Sharp diorama: MSL drilling at its ultimate science target -- the water-laid layered sedimentary rocks on the lower slopes of Mount Sharp.
NB: LEGOŽ began selling a NASA Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity Rover set (21104) based on an excellent CUUSOO entry by MSL engineer Stephen Pakbaz in 2014. The CUUSOO entry garnered the necessary 10,000 votes more quickly than usual, and the set's first run sold out quickly as well. (Another is forthcoming.) This MOC differs from the set in that it's much larger, much more detailed and realistic (both functionally and visually), motorized under PF remote control with realistic rough-terrain performance, and largely completed before the set was released.

Show vs. go
All images up so far show only the MOC's "show" configuration, with dummy battery, IR receivers removed from the deck, and wires tucked under the hull. Eventually, I'll add photos of its "go" configuration.




MOC overview in photos and text


MSL is a largely autonomous robotic field geologist, advanced imaging and remote sensing platform, sophisticated chemical and mineralogical laboratory, weather station, and advanced telecommunications station on wheels. MSL the geologist collects samples of hard rock by drilling, as portrayed here. The rock powder collected by the drill is then processed and delivered to the CheMin analyzer and sometimes to the SAM analyzer as well. The drill is one of 5 devices on an instrument turret at the end of a 2.1 m, 5 degree-of-freedom (DOF) robotic arm mounted on the front panel of its hull. The arm is strong enough to put a good bit of the rover's weight behind the drill if necessary.

Next to the drill head on the near side of the turret is a complicated-looking tool called CHIMRA that scoops up samples of soils (loose materials, mostly dust and sand on Mars) and readies both soil and drill powder samples for analysis by the ChemMin and SAM instruments inside the hull. When CHIMRA's done with a sample, the arm carries it over the front part of the deck to deposit portions of the sample into one or both of the round black sample inlets there. Mounted on the hull's front panel within reach of the turret are several other fixtures that assist in the collection and processing of samples in various ways.

MSL the imaging platform carries 17 cameras in all -- 4 of them primarily for scientific use, and the rest primarily for engineering purposes. Five of the 17 cameras reside on the instrument mast rising from the deck, and another, on the turret. MSL's primary remote sensing device, ChemCam, occupies most of the box (Remote Warm Electronics Box, RWEB) atop the mast. ChemCam incorporates a powerful laser that heats small rock and soil targets to a glowing plasma and a telescope and spectrometer that together analyze the spectrum of light emitted by the plasma to deduce the rock's chemical make-up -- all from up to 7 m away. This capability allows MSL to evaluate many potential sampling targets from a distance.

MSL the laboratory analyzes powdered rock and soil samples with 2 ultra-minaturized internal instruments called CheMin and SAM. ChemCam and the turret's Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer (APXS) also provide elemental compositions without any need for sample collection.

MSL the weather station uses the gray REMS booms halfway up the instrument mast to collect meterological data. MSL the telecommunications station has 3 different anntennas -- one to communicate directly with Earth, another to communicate with Mars orbiters, and a 3rd used only during its EDL sequence. Most of the data MSL collects returns to Earth via the orbiters, whereas the direct link is used primarily for communication with its handlers at JPL.


MSL's sophisticated mobility system is built around NASA's patented rocker-bogie suspension (RBS), a 6x6x4 platform (all 6 wheels driven, all 4 corner wheels steered) that keeps all 6 wheels on the ground and keeps the attitude of the hull within safe limits over even the roughest terrain. These capabilities allow MSL to surmount step-like obstacles up to 50% taller than its wheels (50 cm, 20 in). (Try that in your SUV!)

Perhaps more importantly, the RBS, ultra-low aspect ratio wheels, and nuclear power supply (see below) work together to maximize MSL's odds against the greatest outside threats to its mission -- hidden soft soil traps. The role of the nuclear power supply -- the bulky structure angling up from the rear end in this side view -- is indirect but critical here. By freeing MSL from dependence solar power, it eliminates a common cause of death among previous rovers -- namely, power failure due to the dusting-over of solar panels during prolonged extrication attempts.

The robotic arm is folded up in stowed position in this photo.


There are 2 bogies on each side, here seen in black. The rear and middle wheels mount at opposite ends of the shorter rear bogie. In between is a pivot attached to the rear end of the longer front bogie, which has the front wheel at its opposite end. The front bogie is keyed to a rocker axle emerging from the side of the hull.

Inside the hull, a complex gear train connects the right and left rocker axles so as to form what amounts to a giant differential gearbox with the hull as its casing. Each rocker axle also connects to a differential arm pivoting atop the hull via an external link and lever, all seen here in black. This arrangement restricts the pitch of the hull to the average of the front bogie pitches. Though it may look like the hull's balancing on the rocker axles, it should be clear now that hull pitch is under positive mechanical control.

The angled Technic connectors forming the MOC's bogies were doubled and cross-tied in parallel to reduce bending. The lengths and angles of the bogies and the location of the rocker axles relative to the hull were all precisely scaled for realistic action. A simpler differential inside the hull and a working differential arm atop the hull connect the rocker axles.


Left front bogie separated to show the 1.67:1 reduction in the wheel hub.

At 1:12 scale, no LEGOŽ wheel could even come close to the ultra-low aspect ratio (diameter/width) of MSL's wheels. The best I could do was to stuff 43.2x28 small balloon wheels and 30x13 Model Team wheels back-to-back into 43.2x28 small balloon tires. My fingers were sore for days afterward. The resulting wheels are close to scale in diameter but are still way too narrow. The wheel widths are the MOC's only other significant deviation from 1:12 scale besides the ~1:10 turret.


Closer look at the right front bogie and its attachment to the rocker axle. The horizontal black pulley wheels with half pins above the front wheel are meant to represent the steering actuator on this corner wheel.

Since I couldn't find a way to steer the corner wheels at 1:12 (and frankly doubt that it can be done without severely compromising RBS performance), the MOC has a 6x6x0 platform. However, my RBS is otherwise fully functional in every respect, including the ability to surmount step-like obstacles up to 50% higher than its wheels. Putting all 3 right wheel motors on one IR receiver connection and all 3 left wheel motors on another provided very limited tank-like steering strongly resisted by the RBS. I had to use the older non-V2 receivers here, because V2 receivers refuse to run 3 motors on one connection. Unfortunately, the differential gearing inside the hull left no room for IR receivers at 1:12 scale.


The wheels tend to spread outward when the MOC moves forward and pull inward when it goes in reverse. The latter isn't a problem, but the former reduces ground clearance and impairs rough terrain performance to some extent. To counteract the outward spread, I use the ball mounts shown here to pull the front bogies together with stout rubber bands (removed here) running under the hull. Crossing the rubber bands under the hull reduces interference with front bogie operation to a tolerable level. Additional rubber bands reinforce the rear rocker pivots.

These rubber bands are the MOC's only non-LEGOŽ parts. If my bogies and RBS axles were made of the exotic alloys NASA uses for theirs, I wouldn't have had to resort to such measures to get a fully functional RBS.


Top view for scale. The light-colored floor tiles were 305 mm (12 in) squares before the corner cuts. The differential arm and its pivot are well seen. The round black feature just forward of the left end of the arm is the aperture of the RAD instrument, which monitored radiation levels during MSL's cruise stage to Mars but became inactive thereafter. In the final stage of MSL's spectacular EDL sequence, a SkyCrane lowered it to the ground on a 3-point tether attached to the 3 black deck features forming an equilateral triangle with one apex pointing aft. The robotic arm is stowed in this photo as well.


With MSL's robotic arm (RA) now fully extended, all of the RA's joints and segments can be seen. From lower left to upper right: The 2-DOF shoulder joint attached to its black mount on the front panel of the hull, upper arm, 1-DOF elbow joint, forearm, and 2-DOF wrist joint, which is actually 2 joints in one.

The more distal of the 2 wrist joints -- the one attached directly to the instrument turret at upper right -- shows the joint components well. The black conical hub at the lower end of the joint axle represents the joint actuatuator (the electric motor that actually moves the joint). The black wheel at the upper end of the axle represents the flex spool, which protects the joint cabling from brittle fracture on cold days.


A good look at the RA shoulder joint and the RA front panel mount above it. The MOC's RA joints hold their positions fairly well, but not when the extended RA approaches the horizontal.


Instrument turret poised to drill a rock. Guard rods flank the drill bit at 6 o'clock. The gray structure at 12 o'clock is part of the drill housing. The black CHIMRA tool runs from 3-5 o'clock, and the white APXS instrument is at 1 o'clock. At 8-9 o'clock is the DRT -- basically a forked wire brush used to clean rock surfaces prior to drilling and APSX measurements, and at 9-11 o'clock is the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) -- a high-resultion color camera that can focus from infinity to millimeter scale. (The field geologist's hand lens resembles a jeweler's loupe. Like MAHLI, it's used to inspect rocks at millimeter scale.)


Close-up of the MAHLI side of the turret with MAHLI on the left and DRT on the right. My turret isn't as fragile as it might look, but the guard rods (very hard to model) constantly fall out of alignment with the bit.


MSL also uses MAHLI to take the many selfies it sends back to JPL for engineering (and PR) purposes.




Two views of the CHIMRA and APXS side of the turret. CHIMRA has already been discussed. The white APXS is a contact instrument meant to be planted directly on a rock or soil surface. When alpha particles emitted from a curium-244 source inside the APXS strike atoms in the target, the APXS detects the fluorescent X-rays produced. The elemental composition of the target can be deduced from the energy spectrum of the X-rays.


Rendering the turret and its many intricate but functionally important details turned out to be a modeling nightmare at 1:12 scale: Nothing LEGOŽ was small enough. In the end, small clip- and bar-bearing parts -- and (gasp) parts thereof -- yielded a decent turret at ~1:10 scale. The turret is the MOC's most significant scaling discrepancy.


Front panel features from left to right: (i) Gray square observation tray allowing the MAHLI camera to image samples against a known background before they're dumped into one or both samplet inlets. (ii) Sample "playground", used to test questionable soil samples for compatibility with CHIMRA's internal passages. (iii) Black spare drill bit holders. (iv) Above, an array of colorful cannisters containing organic check materials (OCMs). The OCMs allow MSL to double-check the cleanliness of CHIMRA's passages and SAM's sample inlet when SAM detects an organic compound suspected of being a contaminant brought from Earth. (v) Below, the white downward-looking paired front HazCams. (vi) Robotic arm mount and shoulder joint. MSL's 4 HazCams take low-resolution stereo images used primarily in hazard avoidance.

The black round deck features just above the front panel are the CheMin and SAM sample inlets. ChemMin analyzes rock and soil samples prepared by CHIMRA for chemical elements and minerals present via powder X-ray diffraction and fluorescence, while SAM analyzes primarily for organic compounds and related inorganic compounds and volatiles -- including water -- using a variety of methods.


A better look at the sample playground. The RA positions CHIMRA's soil scoop over the playground and drops a portion of the suspect sample into the tube and funnel modeled here in gray. MAHLI then looks to see if anything failed to get through. If the sample passes this test, CHIMRA swallows the rest for processing.


MSL's science payload consists of 10 instruments, 4 of which are mounted on this instrument mast: (i) ChemCam, a remote chemical analyzer and telescope housed in the box (aka Remote Warm Electronics Box, RWEB) atop the mast. ChemCam's ablation laser and telescope operate through the len system on the RWEB's right face. (ii and iii) Two high-resolution color MastCams, one medium-angle and the other narrow-angle (square apertures right below the RWEB). Of MSL's 17 cameras, these MastCams and the MAHLI camera on the turret are the only ones producing color images. (iv) Dual REMS weather booms at mid-mast. Flanking the MastCams are the stereo NavCams used to construct the 3D computer vision representations MSL uses to negoiate the Martian surface autonomously. The NavCams are considered engineering cameras but are sometimes used for scientific purposes as well.


MSL's 3 antennas from left to right: (i) Large hexagonal high-gain antenna (HGA), (ii) small, gold-tipped low-gain antenna (LGA) on left rear pedestal, and (iii) black coffee can-like UHF antenna on right rear pedestal. MSL uses the HGA to communicate directly with its handlers at JPL. The UHF antenna is generally used to transmit data to an orbiter for relay to Earth. The LGA was used only during MSL's EDL sequence.


Closer look at the highly directional HGA. Its working 2-DOF azimuth-elevation mount allows it to keep Earth in its narrow field of view regardless of MSL's heading.


The midline structure angling up from MSL's rear end with a cylindrical core surrounded by 8 cooling fins is the nuclear power supply -- offically the Multi-Mission Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator (MMRTG). The MMRTG frees MSL from reliance on solar power -- the Achilles heel of all previous Mars rover missions -- by turning the heat produced by the radioactive decay of non-fissible plutonium-239 into electrical power. The MMRTG has a nominal service life of 14 years but is expected to produce power adequate to MSL's needs for at least several years beyond that.

The large C-shaped panels flanking the MMRTG are heat exchangers belonging to MSL's internal thermal control system, which must maintain safe operating temperatures within the hull (aka Warm Electronics Box, or WEB) in the face of daily external temperature swings exceeding 100°C. The exchangers can either (i) warm the WEB by capturing waste heat from the MMRTG, or (ii) cool it by radiating excess heat into the Martian atmosphere, as needed.

The 8-fold rotational symmetry of the MMRTG's cooling fins proved very difficult to model at 1:12 scale. The only solution I could find yielded a fairly realistic rendering at proper scale but was quick to fall apart -- especially during assembly. After putting it back together for the umpteenth time the night before a show, I threw in the towel and (gasp) got out the superglue.


Low-angle orbiter image of the Martian surface at the transition between the rugged rocky southern highlands to the right and the northern plains to the left. Gale Crater is near this enigmatic global transition at a different longitude.

Above the horizon is the Martian atmosphere, reddened by the ultra-fine iron oxide-rich dust covering nearly all of the planet's surface. Dust storms, sometimes global in extent and weeks in duration, are frequent on Mars. Dust-covered solar panels nearly killed Spirit and Opportunity several times.

To eliminate that risk for MSL, its designers turned to the same nuclear power supplies previously used in many planetary orbiter and fly-by missions and in both Viking Mars landers, but never before in a rover due to their weight. It took MSL's radical new EDL sequence to make landing a rover with a nuclear power supply feasible. MSL includes many other dust countermeasures.


Another look at the MMRTG.


The white box below and in front of the black UHF antenna is the pyrotechnics control box. This box orchestrated the small detonations used to detach the series of EDL vehicles that brought MSL to a safe landing. Its final task was to cut MSL's SkyCrane tether once the rover was safely on the ground. Atop the pyrotechnics control box is a small black sundial used as a navigational aid. (Unlike Earth's, Mars' very weak and spotty magnetic field is useless for navigation.)




Rocker-bogie suspension sequence
The next set of photos shows how MSL's rocker-bogie suspension conforms to an obstacle roughly 50% taller than its wheels. Things to note: (i) Since all six wheel remain firmly planted on the ground, they're always available to either push or pull MSL up and over an obstacle or back it off as needed. (ii) Radical changes in bogie pitch have little effect on hull pitch. (iii) MSL retains these mission-critical capabilities with any wheel or combination of wheels lifted onto an obstacle.




















MSL in context: Mount Sharp diorama
This final batch of photos shows the MOC in a diorama meant to depict MSL working its ultimate scientific target -- the apparently water-laid layered sedimentary rocks exposed at the foot of Mount Sharp, Gale Crater's rather enigmatic central mound. MSL is to drill powder samples from these rocks, scoop up samples of surrounding soils, and transmit the analyses back to Earth. Orbiter-based imagery and spectroscopy strongly suggest that rocks rich in clay minerals alternate with rocks rich in sulfate minerals. If so, they reflect a series of alternating wet and dry conditions, respectively -- perhaps even a period of climatic instability leading up to the final disappearance of surface water on Mars.

The diorama's built on a 6x6 raft of 12x12 modified bricks. The realistically contoured features represent a composite of surface features around the foot Mount Sharp known from existing high-resolution images taken by MSL and the HiRise Mars orbiter. The lower-relief portions of the diorama depict a now dry braided outwash stream emerging from a slot canyon in the far corner. MSL's target rocks are exposed in the slopes flanking the stream bed.


Drilling is by far MSL's most dangerous activity. For example, if its wheels were to slip while drilling on a slope, the drill bit could jam in its hole. MSL's designed to jettison the entire drill face in such an event and replace it with one of 2 spares carried on the front panel below the observation tray. The great power and strength of MSL's titanium alloy robotic arm also help to reduce the risk of getting stuck to a rock while drilling, but significant dangers remain.


As on Earth, the cliff-forming and slope-forming layers reflect differing resistances to erosion, the steeper slopes being more resistant.

Wind-blown sand has been the only significant agent of erosion on Mars for the last 3 billion years or so, but older landforms clearly shaped by flowing water are well preserved in many places. The landforms depicted here are much more typical of stream erosion.




When MSL is preoccupied, its activities don't go unnoticed.







Table of features and stats


Overall dimensions:
280 x 256 x 188 mm (LxWxH) with robotic arm stowed

Overall weight:
1.04 kg (2.29 lb) in "show" configuration

Construction:

Studded hull with a mix of studded and studless appendages

Scale:
1:12 except for instrument turret (~1:10)

Mobility system:
6x6x0 (as opposed to MSL's 6x6x4)

Suspension:

Fully functional rocker-bogie

Propulsion:

M motor on each wheel

Steering:

Limited skid via independent control of right and left wheelsets

Wheels:

43.2x28 small ballon wheels and 30x13 Model Team wheels stuffed back-to-back into 43.2x28 small balloon tires

Motors:

7 in all -- 6 Ms for propulsion, 1 micro for instrument mast head rotation

IR receivers:
2 -- non-V2 to allow 3 M motors per connection

IR receiver connections:
3 -- 1 for each wheelset (3 M motors each); 1 for mast head micro motor

Electrical power:

7.4V rechargeable PF battery

Modified LEGOŽ parts:

Many -- mostly parts of small bar-bearing parts in the instrument mast head and turret

Non-LEGOŽ parts:
Rubber bands to reduce wheel spread in forward motion and reinforce rear bogie pivots

Credits:

Entirely original MOC, including diorama

Thanks:

To NASA for making me proud to be a human again




Comments

 I like it 
  September 26, 2014
Okay wow that's awesome.
 I like it 
  March 7, 2014
Beautiful. This is a real engineering feat, and it looks sciency too - The MMRTG is very well done, as is the clever way you made the wheels. The diorama is superb as well!
 I made it 
  March 6, 2014
Quoting Stephen Pakbaz Incredible Curiosity LEGO model! I'm glad my MOC helped you with yours. I know how challenging it must have been to make. A lot of people have shown interest in a motorized Curiosity rover set. I began looking into making one myself a while ago, but haven't started building anything yet, and it will likely be a while before I have the time. It looks like you've captured every last detail, even down to individual bolts in some places. Much more detail than I was able to include in my smaller model. It sounds like you now know everything about the rover itself, inside and out, which is great! Again, it's a fantastic model! Happy building!
Stephen, thanks for the very kind words. They mean a lot coming from you. I look forward to seeing the motorized MSL model you come up with one day. (I'd recommend 1:10 over the 1:12 scale I used, though.) If you happened to notice anything wrong with the MOC or my endless write-up, please let me know.
  March 3, 2014
Incredible Curiosity LEGO model! I'm glad my MOC helped you with yours. I know how challenging it must have been to make. A lot of people have shown interest in a motorized Curiosity rover set. I began looking into making one myself a while ago, but haven't started building anything yet, and it will likely be a while before I have the time. It looks like you've captured every last detail, even down to individual bolts in some places. Much more detail than I was able to include in my smaller model. It sounds like you now know everything about the rover itself, inside and out, which is great! Again, it's a fantastic model! Happy building!
 
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