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Curiosity rover LEGO® version could land soon

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Abstract

Now that NASA's Curiosity rover has landed on Mars, a smaller LEGO® plastic brick construction version could be landing in toy stores. Less than 2 weeks after Curiosity set down on 5 August, a LEGO® set concept model designed by a mechanical and aerospace engineer who worked on the real rover garnered its 10,000th supporter on the Web site of CUUSOO, a Japanese partner of the LEGO® group. That milestone triggered a company review that began in September 2012 to test the model's “playability, safety, and ft with the LEGO® brand,” according to a congratulatory statement from the company to designer Stephen Pakbaz. Pakbaz told Eos that he has been an avid LEGO® and space exploration fan for most of his life. “For me, creating a LEGO® model of Curiosity using my firsthand knowledge of the rover was inevitable. What I enjoyed most was being able to faithfully replicate and subsequently demonstrate the rocker-bogie suspension system to friends, family, and coworkers,” he noted, referring to the suspension system that allows the rover to climb over obstacles while keeping its wheels on the ground. Pakbaz, who is currently with Orbital Sciences Corporation, was involved with aspects of the rover while working at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory from 2007 to 2011 as a mechanical engineer.