In Paris, the European Space Agency has released the blueprint for at-home 3D printers to produce their own miniature Rosalind Franklin ExoMars rover at home using bioplastic.
The ExoMy rover stands at 16 inches—scaled down from 78-inch tall version that will actually roam Mars beginning in 2023. It will take about two weeks for space enthusiasts to make and features a camera mast replica of the version ESA will use to search for alien life, as well as a rugged “triple-bogey” suspension that the original will need to traverse the Martian surface.
The blueprint is free, but materials will cost around £500 ($667). PLA is a biodegradable bioplastic made from plant starch.
“The source code is available on GitHub along with a step-by-step assembly guide and tutorials,” ESA robotics expert Miro Voellmy tells The Daily Mail. “We focused on making the design as affordable and accessible as possible. 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, which is scheduled for launch in 2022.” While several elements—including the camera and solar panels—are purely decorative, the design includes a motor and remote control that can be steered using a game pad or mobile device.
The rover is named after Rosalind Franklin, a woman whose work was instrumental in the discovery of DNA but went largely uncredited and unnoticed at the time.