- The blueprint is freely available and anyone with a 3D printer can make the replica for less than £500
- Structural parts for ExoMy take around two weeks to make out of PLA, a biodegradable plant starch material
- Full-size Rosalind Franklin rover is due to land on Mars in 2023 and wil look for signs of alien life A miniature and adorable version of the European Space Agency's Rosalind Franklin rover which will land on Mars in 2023 can now be 3D printed by space lovers.
The blueprint is freely available and anyone with a 3D printer can make the replica for less than £500.
Dubbed ExoMy, the structural parts take around two weeks to make out of PLA, a biodegradable material made out of plant starch.
Its camera mast, which the full-size version will use to search for signs of alien life, is equipped with a smiley face to humanise the machine.
Swiss trainee Miro Voellmy said: 'The source code is available on GitHub along with a step-by-step assembly guide and tutorials.
'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.'
The miniature replica is 42cm (16 inches) tall, whereas the full size machine stands in excess of 2m (78 inches).
It also has many of the key features, including solar panels, a drill and a camera but none of them work, with the resemblance merely aesthetic.
'We aimed to make the design as accessible and fun as possible,' says German trainee Maximillian Ehrhardt.
'ExoMy actually began as a one-off demonstrator at the ESA Open Day at ESTEC here in the Netherlands in 2018. It was a big hit.'
Rosalind Franklin rover has been equipped with an innovative 'triple-bogey' suspension to allow it to traverse rough terrain without suffering damage.
This too is replicated in ExoMy and each wheel has its own motor and has tread to ensure it doesn't slip when moving.
'Steering is performed using a gamepad or else a web browser on a mobile device,' adds Belgian trainee Lorenzo Cervantes.
'From what we've seen during past Open Day events, kids are actually often better at driving ExoMy than their parents.'