[meteorite-list] LEGO's Mars Curiosity Rover Model Set for New Year's Day Release

From: Ron Baalke <baalke_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Thu, 19 Dec 2013 14:25:41 -0800 (PST)
Message-ID: <201312192225.rBJMPf62008978_at_zagami.jpl.nasa.gov>


LEGO's Mars Curiosity rover model set for New Year's Day release

December 18, 2013 - LEGO will launch its 2014 toy line with a fan-created
model of NASA's Mars Curiosity rover.

The Danish toy company announced on Wednesday (Dec. 18) that its new "NASA
Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity Rover" building brick set will be available
for sale from the LEGO Shop online beginning Jan. 1. The 295-piece model
will retail for $29.99.

"Hailed by NASA as a 'miracle of engineering' when [the real rover] landed
on Mars in August 2012, we are thrilled to present a LEGO set based on
this historic spacecraft," Tim Courtney, LEGO's community manager, wrote
on the company's website.

The Curiosity model is the fifth product to be released in the LEGO CUUSOO
line of fan-designed sets.

CUUSOO, which in Japanese means "imagination" or, as it is sometimes translated,
"wish," is a website that invites LEGO enthusiasts to share their ideas
for new products. Visitors to the website can vote for their favorite
model concepts to be considered for the next CUUSOO set.

Mechanical engineer Stephen Pakbaz displays the LEGO model of the Mars
Curiosity rover that he designed and inspired. (LEGO)

"Stephen Pakbaz, a mechanical engineer who worked on the actual Curiosity
rover at NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab [in Calif.], designed and submitted
the rover project to LEGO CUUSOO in late 2011," Courtney explained. "His
project reached 10,000 supporters within two weeks of the landing in August
2012, and was selected for production by the LEGO Review Board this June."

Pakbaz created the model to further educational outreach of the Curiosity
mission and to encourage greater public support for space exploration.

"My hope was to have a set produced while the real rover was still active
on Mars so that the model could help kids learn about the real rover's
discoveries as they occurred," Pakbaz told collectSPACE in an interview
last year.

On Jan. 1, the real car-sized Curiosity will be continuing its trek to
the base of Mount Sharp, a towering mountain at the center of Mars' Gale
Crater, where the rover landed. Curiosity should reach Mount Sharp by
mid-2014, mission team members have said.

CUUSOO NASA Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity Rover (LEGO)
Pakbaz and LEGO created the model version of the rover to feature many
of the same details as its full-size Mars Science Laboratory (MSL).

"It has a functioning rocker-bogie suspension system and fully articulated
robotic arm," Pakbaz wrote in his review of the final model for LEGO's
website. "It can be used to explore the unknown regions of your house
or office."

"Climbing the outer walls of Carpet Crater and descending into Couch Canyon,
you will finally be able to determine if your living room was ever capable
of supporting microbial life!" Pakbaz exclaimed.

Similar to earlier LEGO CUUSOO sets, the rover's building instruction
booklet also includes background information about Pakbaz, the history
of Mars exploration and the real Curiosity rover.

"It is a high quality booklet packed with all sorts of images and educational
information about the rover," Pakbaz said. "My favorite parts are the
tidbits added to the margins of the building steps that provide extra
information about the various components of the rover as you build them."

LEGO's Curiosity model recreates features on the real car-sized rover,
including its six-wheel rocker-bogie suspension. (LEGO)
LEGO's Curiosity is the latest overlap between real space exploration
and the iconic color bricks.

In 2012, CUUSOO released a model of Japan's Hayabusa asteroid-sampling
probe as created by LEGO fan Daisuke Okubo.

LEGO and NASA have also collaborated on a number of outreach projects,
including flying minifigures to Mars and Jupiter and launching construction
sets to the International Space Station.
Received on Thu 19 Dec 2013 05:25:41 PM PST

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