Way back in August 18, 2012, the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity Rover project by Stephen Pakbaz, aka Perijove, achieved 10,000 supporters on LEGO CUUSOO. At the beginning of the year, it became available for purchase on LEGO Shop@Home and sold out very quickly. I’ve managed to get one before stock ran out and here’s my take on it. The Curiosity Rover (21104) contains 295 and retails for $29.99. At 295 pieces, this set is currently the smallest CUUSOO set that has been released by LEGO. The box contains one instructions book, four un-numbered bags, and two loose 8×16 tan plates.
The instructions book itself is in the Architecture-style with the thick paper much like the previous CUUSOO set, the Back to the Future DeLorean Time Machine (21103). The beginning of the book talks about Mars and NASA’s mission to the Red Planet. The next pages talk about NASA’s interest of potential life on the planet and the discovery of the past presense of water there. The following pages talk about the background of the Curiosity and the instruments it uses to explore Mars. There’s even diagrams to show the main gadgets of the rover. Throughout the instructions, there are short blubs giving some facts about the Curiosity. Did you know that we travel more feet per day than the rover? At the end of the book, Stephen talks about how his work on the real Curiosity rover at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory transferred to his LEGO model which ultimately became this set. His purpose of the set is to educate people about the mission to Mars as well as encouraging public support to explore outer space.
There are two parts to the build, the Mars landscape with Martian rocks and the Curiosity rover. The landscape itself is pretty simple with the two 8×16 tan plates and the 2×3 grey sloped bricks.
The Curiosity starts off with just a 6×8 white plate and it builds up from there. For the first 20 or so steps, you’ll just be building the structure of the rover. A few steps later, you’ll be building the front of the rover which is the CheMin (Chemistry and Mineralogy X-Ray) and the SAM (Sample Analysis at Mars). After that, you’ll be adding the different types of antennas that sends data back to Earth.
The back of the rover has the radioisotope thermoelectric generator which is just the nuclear power source for the Curiosity. The gold colored grills are similar to the chemical coated heat rejection tubes to remove excess heat produced by the generator.
Next up is the 6-wheel Rocker-Bogie suspension system that is on the offset differential arm in the middle. This type of suspension system allows the chassis to be low to the ground while the wheels are going over uneven terrain. This also allows all 6 wheels to be on the ground without it overturning.
Finally, you build the different cameras and the Turret of the rover. The red stud on the camera head represents the ChemCam which is used to vaporize rock surfaces and to analyse the spectrum of light of the vaporized rocks to see what they are made of. The Turret on the robotic arm has a variety of instruments that the rover uses to explore the planet.
Overall, the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity Rover (21104) is a very cool set to have. The build wasn’t difficult at all and you get to learn more about the vehicle itself while you are building. It makes a great addition for anyone who is interested in space related items. I recommend picking it up when it is back in stock again on Shop@Home. Also check out Your Creative Friends’ video below for a review of the set with Stephen as the special guest.
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