Category Archives: Space Models

ESA uses LEGO ExoMars model in rover operations simulation

The European Space Agency (ESA) reports that a Lego ExoMars rover model can help with visualization of a rover’s movements in simulated remote control operations:

Lego ExoMars model


This Lego model of Europe’s ExoMars rover on its lander was not built solely for fun – but is actually a tool, being used by robotics engineers in the midst of a major ‘egress’ test campaign.

Making a safe landing on Mars will be key to the success of Europe’s mobile Mars mission. Then comes the next most important step: to successfully drive the wheeled rover from the top of its lander, otherwise known as egress.

The biggest decision of all will be which direction to drive – forwards or backwards – based on the limited data that operators have to hand. The lander will have two sets of tracks for the rover to descend in case one side is blocked, for instance by rocks (one also reproduced here in Lego).

To build up experience of egress and remote rover operations, ESA’s Automation and Robotics section together with ESOC’s Advance Mission Concepts section are conducting a long-distance test campaign in collaboration with the French space agency CNES. The ExoMars project team is monitoring the ongoing activities.

A half-scale rover on a mock-up lander has been placed in the outdoor 80 x 50 m ‘Mars Yard’ at CNES Toulouse. An operations team based a thousand kilometres away at ESA’s ESTEC technical centre in the Netherlands has first to egress the rover, then move it further across the simulated Marscape to explore and accomplish various tasks.

Across a series of tests that continue throughout this week, the ESTEC team has no knowledge of the lander’s precise placing but must work with the limited camera views and sensor data the rover and lander sends back to them, with results received and telecommands sent during a limited set of communication passes.

The Lego model lets the engineers easily visualise and communicate complicated telemetry data.

This campaign follows on from a previous egress campaign that took place last autumn.

Kickstarter: “MOON – the most accurate lunar globe”

Here’s a cool Kickstarter project that has reached nearly three times its goal with 3 weeks left: MOON – the most accurate lunar globe by Oscar Lhermitte and Kudu — Kickstarter

The MOON globe aims for accuracy:

MOON is unlike traditional lunar globes that uses 2D photographs or illustrations of the Moon. 

1. it is a truly accurate 1/20 million replica of the Moon featuring all the craters, elevation and ridges in accurate 3D.

2. it has a ring of LED lights that revolves around the globe, constantly illuminating the correct face of the moon and recreating the lunar phases as seen from Earth.


“COSMOS: Timeless, Magnetic, Wooden Toys” from Huzi Design

The young company Huzi Design has combined Beech wood, powerful magnets, and some imagination to create an elegant collection of space toys: Spaceship Building Blocks For Budding Rocket Scientists –


Unfortunately, they are not available yet but you can make them happen and also obtain your own collection by supporting their crowd-funding campaign: COSMOS: Timeless, Magnetic, Wooden Toys by huzi — Kickstarter

No blinking lights. No complicated electronics. No forgettable plastic toys that end up in garbage dumps.

Instead, we set out with the ambition to create toys loaded with meaning like imagination and simplicity. Toys that are long-lasting in both meaning and quality, so beautiful that kids and grownups will want to keep forever. Classic toys, reinvented. Simple values, restored.

Michael Mackowski: “Adventures in Space Advocacy” + “The New Scale Spacecraft Primer”

Michael Mackowski was recently on The Space Show to talk about his space activism efforts, which he recounted in the new book Adventures in Space Advocacy: A Personal Story of Space Activism : Michael Mackowski, Tuesday, 7-28-15 | Thespaceshow’s Blog



Michael is also very active in spacecraft modeling and has a new book out on this topic as well:

“The New Scale Spacecraft Primer” Modeling Reference Book is Published

The Space In Miniature series of books on scale modeling of historical spacecraft has been around since 1990. The first book, SIM #1 – A Scale Spacecraft Primer, has been woefully out of date for a while.


So I am pleased to announce that a new version of SIM #1 is now available: SIM #1.1 – The New Scale Spacecraft Primer. Most of the book is brand new material, with about 14 pages retained from the original edition. Some articles that are still useful were retained (Ariane, Space Operations Center review, Viking Mars Lander, etc.) but the rest are all new or recycled from my old IPMS Journal (the magazine of the International Plastic Modelers Society) columns. With the 25th anniversary of SIM and the 50th anniversary of IPMS/USA, several retrospective articles are included, including commentary from Kevin Atkins, Sven Knudson, and Mat Irvine. There is new content on my Curiosity Mars rover, the DC-X, the Revell Astronaut with MMU, and several other examples of scratchbuilding real space models. Real Space modelers should enjoy the commentaries as well as the new reference material.

SIM #1.1 – The New Scale Spacecraft Primer is available in both hard copy ($12 plus shipping for a 38-page soft-bound book printed in black and white on coated paper) and a digital version ($10 for a pdf with full color).

There are forms on the SIM website ( to order either version (or both!). Customers can also send a check for $14.00 (which includes first class postage to U.S. addresses), payable to Michael Mackowski, to 1022 W. Juanita Ave., Gilbert, AZ  85233. The other titles in the SIM series are still available in various formats.

For additional details, contact the publisher at 480-282-1343 or by email at