US: A working model of NASA’s Mars Rover Curiosity is set to delight visitors to South Australia at this month’s International Astronautical Congress. The life-size replica was built with NASA’s blessing by Sydney company Yippee Ki-Yah for a Qantas Frequent Flyer promotion in 2013.
The airline is bringing it to the Adelaide Convention Centre for the event, which runs from September 25-29.
The real Curiosity, the most technologically advanced rover ever built, last month celebrated five years on Mars where its mission is to determine whether the Red Planet ever was, or is, habitable to microbial life.
About the size of a small car, Curiosity is equipped with 17 cameras and a robotic arm containing specialised tools and instruments.
The 350kg motorized replica will be among a range of space industry machinery on show in the Convention Centre’s exhibition hall along with a full-scale model of Boeing’s X-37B space plane.
IAC2017 Chief Executive Brett Biddington said the Curiosity model would be like a “pseudo delegate” at the congress, which is expected to attract about 3500 members of the global space industry. Delegates will include the heads of all the major space agencies and SpaceX founder Elon Musk.
“It’s been refurbished, it’s operational and our plan is to have it rove through the Convention Centre during the course of the week that the conference is on,” he said.
“Given the Lockheed presentation and Elon Musk’s presentation about Mars on the Friday, the Curiosity model is a very good lead in on that theme.
“The fact it will be there is terrific because it gives people a sense of what’s on Mars and where humanity is progressing to.”
The exhibition hall will feature 80 of the world’s leading space companies and is open to the general public free of charge on Friday, September 29 from 9am to 1pm.
“Many of the companies will have mock ups of satellites, display hardware and some of them will have high quality graphics of the sorts of products and services they supply to the space market globally,” Biddington said.
“It’s a very good hour spent to get a good feel for just what the space world is about today.”
The South Australian Government will also have an exhibition stand at the conference, where they will be joined by 11 local space start-ups, including Myriota, Fleet Space Technologies, Neumann Space and Inovor Technologies, hoping to increase their footprint in the multi-billion-dollar global space industry.