The cutest Mars rover in the galaxy is one you can build for yourself

The ExoMy rover is modeled after ESA's Rosalind Franklin ExoMars machine.

Amanda Kooser
Freelance writer Amanda C. Kooser covers gadgets and tech news with a twist for CNET. When not wallowing in weird gear and iPad apps for cats, she can be found tinkering with her 1956 DeSoto.
Amanda Kooser
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This perky little rover uses 3D-printed parts and runs on a Raspberry Pi computer.


Most Mars rovers are kind of cute anyway (hello, NASA Curiosity), but they're about to be outdone by a new kid on the block: the ExoMy rover, a model Mars vehicle you can build for yourself from 3D-printed components.

ExoMy is based on the Rosalind Franklin ExoMars rover from the European Space Agency. ESA has made the ExoMy open-source plans available free online through GitHub.

"We focused on making the design as affordable and accessible as possible," ESA's Miro Voellmy said in a statement on Monday. "It uses a Raspberry Pi computer and off-the-shelf electronic parts available online and at any hobby shop."  

The agency estimates it will cost between $300 and $600 to make the rover, which stands about 16 inches (42 centimeters) tall. 

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ExoMy looks a lot like its full-size counterpart. It has six wheels and borrows the "triple-bogie" suspension that will allow Rosalind Franklin to handily navigate the rough terrain on Mars. The camera mast has a customizable face and is designed to wear different hats, just in case you want it to look even cuter.

ESA released a video of an ExoMy in action showing the little vehicle rolling over rocks and sand. "ExoMy is more than a toy as it can serve as a low-cost research and prototyping platform for robotic experiments," said Voellmy.   

Rosalind Franklin was originally scheduled to launch in 2020, but technical issues and the coronavirus pandemic delayed it to 2022

Mars is set to become a busy place over the next few years. NASA, China and the United Arab Emirates all launched missions to the red planet this year, and all will arrive in February 2021. NASA and China will attempt to land rovers on the surface. 

ESA may have to wait a bit for Rosalind Franklin to catch up, but Earth could end up as home to plenty of plucky ExoMy rovers in the meantime.