The next space-themed Lego set to be released is actually two history-making spacecraft in one, Technic-ally speaking.
As officially revealed on Tuesday (May 23), the new Lego Technic NASA Mars Rover Perseverance model will not only recreate in miniature the most recent U.S. robotic explorer to drive across the Martian surface, but also its flying companion, the Ingenuity Mars helicopter. The 1,132 piece set, which as part of the Technic line includes more complex mechanisms, will go on sale Aug. 1 for $99.99 (£84.99 or €89.99) at Lego stores and on the company's website.
"Working on this model has been both challenging and exciting" Luke Cragin, a designer at the Lego Group in Denmark, said in a statement. "I've always felt passionate about space, and the design process let me explore my interest as I recreated the incredible engineering developed by the pioneering team at NASA."
Based on the Mars 2020 Mission rover, which landed inside Jezero crater on Feb. 18, 2021, the Lego Technic Perseverance was designed to give builders, ages 10 and older, a better understanding of the engineering that made, and continues to make, the six-wheeled robotic explorer so adept at studying the red planet. The real rover was launched to Mars to seek out signs of ancient life and to collect soil samples for return to Earth by a later mission.
Related: Perseverance Rover: NASA's Mars car to seek signs of ancient life
The Lego Technic model features 360-degree steering and a movable robotic arm, plus a fully articulated suspension that lets Perseverance travel across uneven surfaces on all six wheels. And just like its real-life counterpart, the Lego Technic version is joined by a replica mission companion Ingenuity helicopter, the first vehicle to achieve powered flight on a celestial body other than Earth.
Ingenuity has now completed more than 50 flights as it has helped plan the course for Perseverance by scouting the terrain ahead.
"We hope the model's features and functions will help introduce young space lovers to the world of engineering and encourage them to reach for the stars in the future," said Cragin.
The Lego Technic versions of Perseverance and Ingenuity do not move on their own; they are neither powered nor, in the case of the rotorcraft, capable of taking flight. That does not mean, however, that the Lego models offer only a static experience. Using an app called "Technic AR," builders can interact with the rover and helicopter through both digital and physical augmented reality.
Owners of the model who use the app can find educational content to learn more about the real-life vehicle and its mission on Mars. Through the AR experience, it's also possible to pull up an on-demand overview of the Martian weather and reveal more about the environment as the real Perseverance continues on its mission.
The NASA Mars Rover Perseverance is only the second space-themed Lego Technic set, following the space shuttle released in 1996. Perseverance is not the only Mars rover to get the Lego treatment, though. Previous releases include the Mars Exploration Rover and Mission to Mars sets sold in partnership with the Discovery Channel in 2003 and the Lego Ideas NASA Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity Rover released in 2014.
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