You Can Now Build Your Own Mars Rover for About $2500

NASA/JPL-Caltech / NASA/JPL-Caltech

It’s unlikely that any of us will ever set foot on Mars, but that doesn’t mean we can’t pretend. As spotted by, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) released a blueprint for a planetary rover that hobbyists, aspiring engineers, and astronauts-at-heart can download for free.

Dubbed the Open Source Rover, it’s a simplified version of NASA’s Curiosity rover, which celebrates its sixth year on Mars on August 6. The six-wheel machine can be built for as little as $2500 using commercial off-the-shelf parts, such as an LED board, 3D-printed encoder mounts, and even an Xbox controller.

While JPL officials admit its 100-page instruction manual is “quite detailed,” they say it’s suitable for high school and college students, as well as adults—although some background in mechanical assembly, electronics, and software wouldn’t hurt.

The rover can be customized in accordance with the builder’s preference, whether that's installing RPM motors to make it go faster or adding USB cameras and solar panels.

“I would love to have had the opportunity to build this rover in high school, and I hope that through this project we provide that opportunity to others,” Mik Cox, manager of the project, said in a statement.

To download the instructions and test plans for free, visit GitHub.