Mars will soon be within everyone's reach — or at least, a LEGO version of one of its visiting rovers will be.
One of the Curiosity rover’s designers, Stephen Pakbaz, has created a LEGO version of the space-faring rover, which NASA calls the Mars Science Laboratory.
CUUSOO, which is usually translated from Japanese to either "imagination" or "wish," invites LEGO fans to pitch ideas for new products. Once submitted, models that have accumulated 10,000 votes from visitors to the CUUSOO site win review from LEGO for possible commercial release.
Mr. Pakbaz, who goes by the username "Perijove" on the CUUSOO website, posted his rover submission to the website in November 2011. A mechanical engineer, Pakbaz was involved in some of the design and testing of Curiosity at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. The LEGO rover garnered enough votes to qualify for review in August 2012, just weeks after the rover that inspired it landed on Mars.
Mr. Pakbaz said in his CUUSOO proposal that his goal was to design “a LEGO model that was as faithful to the actual rover as possible in terms of accuracy, details, and mechanical function, while remaining at a reasonable size and cost.”
The real Curiosity rover is about the size of a small SUV, standing over 7 feet tall and weighing about a ton, according to Mr. Pakbaz's write-up. This LEGO version is one twentieth of the size.
Mr. Pakbaz said in his proposal that he has also designed the complicated descent stage equipment that LEGO may include in the commercial set.
The rover was one of three projects that won CUUSOO review this summer. CUUSOO turned down one of them, a giant Star Wars Sandcrawler, and is still pending review of one based on the video game "Portals."
LEGO has not yet determined an expected release date or price for the rover.
The real Curiosity is still investigating on Mars and is slated to begin chugging about five miles over to the planet’s Mount Sharp this month.