Explore Mars

Studying Mars' Habitability, Seeking Signs of Past Microbial Life, Collecting and Caching Samples, and Preparing for Future Human Missions. Fly the Copter, Drive the rover and complete the missions!

Explore Mars Video

Educational Points

Explore Mars has multiple science objectives that support NASA's Mars 2020 the science goals:

  • Looking for Habitability: Identify past environments capable of supporting microbial life
  • Seeking Biosignatures: Seek signs of possible past microbial life in those habitable environments, particularly in special rocks known to preserve signs of life over time
  • Caching Samples: Collect core rock and "soil" samples and store them on the Martian surface

User Interaction

A Throttle and Joystick are used to control the Copter and Rover, and Buttons to activate various options.

  • Up: Move the Copter/Rover forward
  • Down: Move the Copter/Rover backwards
  • 4-Way Directions: Move the joystick around to steer the Rover/Copter
  • Trigger: Pull the trigger to activate drll mode or show an overview map
  • Swap: Swaps between the Rover and Copter
  • Reset: Resets Rover/Copter if you get stuck and also functions as a Quit option during missions

User Experience

Visitors are in command of the Copter and Rover in real-time, highly responsive controls to navigate the martian sufrace. They choose where and how to complete the mission.

  • Flying The Copter: The Copter is used to scout out sample sites and to help with navigation for the Rover.
  • Driving The Rover: Traverse the martian landscape and drill core samples from the various sample sites scattered across the terrain.

Hold Time Data (30 Day Timespan)

Software Pricing


Small Facility Pricing applies 50% reduction

Volume pricing also applies

Pricing Sheet

Hardware Pricing

Explore Mars utilizes an industrial grade throttle and joystick that use Hall Effect technology to provide unparalleled robustness of operation. The purchase price includes the communication box and main joystick. The approved throttle is available at a cost of $400 plus tax (if applicable) plus shipping. These controls have been under heavy use on our exhibit floor since 2018 with no failures and no need for maintenance.

Hardware Provided

  • Keylook License Dongle
  • Arduino-Based Control Interface wired to Arcade Quality Buttons, Throttle and Joystick sourced from Suzo-Happ

Recommended Hardware

  • 4k or 2k display. Ensure windows display scaling is set to 100%
  • Audio: Speakers should be used plugged directly into the computer. Using TV speakers may not work if the computer is on before the TV has been turned on.

Required Computer Specs

  • Quad Core CPU (or better).
  • Power Supply: 600 Watt (or better).
  • Graphics Card: Nvidia RTX 3060 Ti (or better).
  • RAM: 16 GB (or greater).
  • SSD: 120+ GB.
  • OS: Windows 10 or Windows 11.