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Mars Rover Game

Play the Mars rover game

Mars Rover drivers wanted! Search for water as your game rover climbs up and down hills to explore Mars. Drive carefully! One crater crash, and it's "game over" for your rover! Get the free app to play Mars Rover, and find out below how the game rover compares to real Mars rovers.

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Life in the Fast Lane

While your game Mars rover really speeds along, NASA's rovers actually stay in the slow lane! With a top speed of about 2 inches per second, it would take Curiosity about 30 minutes to cross a football field! Engineers play it safe with slow, careful driving. They also use slightly faster computer animations to analyze its path.

Planning Curiosity's First Test Drive   

Mars in a Minute: How Do Rovers Drive on Mars?   

Driving Distance

You can drive your game rover in real time with the arrows on your phone. Mars rover drivers can't, because the signal takes too long to get to Mars. Instead, rover drivers send a list of commands to the rovers once per day. The rover finishes its 'to do' list. Then, it usually takes a nap to recharge its batteries.

Phoning Home

Mission control may tell you "Good Job!" while driving your game rover. Because Mars is so far away, we don't always know if the real rover is doing its job on Mars. We wait for Curiosity to send back pictures and information. Usually, rovers can only send data when Mars orbiters pass overhead, collect the data, and send it back to Earth. The data tells us how far the rover drove and if it is 'feeling' healthy. Based on that information, engineers make plans for the next day's exploration.

Phoning Home: Communicating from Mars   

The Opportunity rover looked upward at 'Knudsen Ridge' on the southern edge of 'Marathon Valley,' but didn't make this climb! Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell Univ./Arizona State Univ.

Hill Climber

Your game rover has a hard time with steep slopes. NASA's rovers can climb steep hills and explore deep craters. However, safety comes first! We don't want to risk tipping a rover over, because there are no tow trucks on Mars! While engineers can test drive a rover on Earth on a 45-degree slope, they usually don't risk anything over 30-degrees on Mars - and not often!

Wonderful Wheels

Your game Mars rover takes on some rough terrain. If you hit a rock, it's mission over! Curiosity's aluminum wheels have faced sharp rocks, and show some wear and tear. However, testing on Earth shows that if we drive the rover carefully, a few holes and dings cannot stop this rover from rolling!

The team operating the Curiosity rover uses a camera on the rover's arm to check the condition of the wheels at routine intervals. This image of Curiosity's left-middle and left-rear wheels is part of an inspection set taken on Curiosity’s 1,179th Martian day, or sol, on Mars. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS
This artist's concept shows the location of the RIMFAX instrument on the next rover bound for Mars Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/FFI

Searching for Water

Mars Rover game players are searching for water, which on Mars, is better than gold! On Earth, where there is water there is life. Searching for signs of water is the first step to learning if Mars ever could have supported life. We see lots of signs that Mars once had water at the surface. Today, rovers drive through dusty deserts with no oasis in sight.

The Mars 2020 rover will carry a tool called RIMFAX. It uses radar to find water under the ground. Water under the ground could be a resource for microbes or for future human explorers. More ›

Peach-colored Skies

The Martian sky in your Mars rover game appears peach. You might see it if you were on Mars! The sky is peach because of tiny reddish dust particles floating around. During dust storms, the skies can turn rust or even brown – that could mean less energy for a solar-powered rover.

This series of images, taken by the Opportunity rover in July 2007, shows a darkening sky. A huge regional dust storm had swept across both Opportunity and her twin rover, Spirit. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell

Mars in a Minute: Is Mars Really Red?   

Is Mars Really Red?

No! Mars is called "The Red Planet" because of its reddish tint in the night sky. Mars is mostly rust-colored because of the iron in its soil. When exposed to the small amount of oxygen in the Martian atmosphere, the iron oxidizes, or rusts. That 'rusty dust' can also blow into the air, turning the sky a peach color.

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Find out more about
NASA's Mars Rover missions

Mars 2020 Rover Curiosity Rover Opportunity & Spirit Rovers
All Mars

Artist's concept image of NASA's Mars Exploration Rovers, Spirit and Opportunity
Artist's concept image of NASA's Mars Rover, Curiosity