By Mike Deliman
I’ve been asked here and there “Just how big is this MSL thing?”
It’s a question I can give several answers to, depending on what the asker means. In physical terms, you could ride on it. Here is a good example…in this photo of a worker and MSL, you can see the cruise shell is large enough to house a small couch with more than one person sitting on it. The rover itself is quite large, I’d imagine good comparisons would be something on the order of a ride-on tractor-mower.
But that isn’t really the only answer. In scientific terms, this is huge. This rover is a well-equipped geological laboratory on wheels. It carries equipment every high-school and university would be proud to have available. Laser spectrometer, chemical analyzers, close-up and long-distance cameras, not to mention an advanced autonomous robot running it all. Any of these tools would be excellent for investigating or teaching/learning about the earth.