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Building A Rover Of The Edible Kind

The other Mars Curiosity rover, made of gingerbread and on display on the Caltech campus.
Brian Bell
/
courtesy California Institute of Technology
The other Mars Curiosity rover, made of gingerbread and on display on the Caltech campus.

The folks at the California Institute of Technology have built another Mars rover, but this one will never get to leave Earth. Not surprising, really, since it's made of gingerbread.

I first learned about the new rover from my colleague Nina Gregory at NPR West, who spotted it in LA Weekly's restaurant blog. Caltech runs NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and JPL runs that other rover called Curiosity that is working its tail off on the red planet, and tweeting all about it.

So as a kind of culinary homage to his colleagues, the head chef at the Caltech faculty club made a gingerbread rover replica, decorated with pinwheel cookies, gumdrops, candy canes and M&Ms. (Here's the real one, for comparison.)

The gingerbread rover sits on a rock-strewn platform, and to keep it company, there's Yoda, Darth Vader, Buzz Lightyear and a three-eyed Martian nearby. At least I think it's a Martian. We'll have to wait for one of NASA's rovers to take a picture of a Martian to be sure.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Joe Palca is a science correspondent for NPR. Since joining NPR in 1992, Palca has covered a range of science topics — everything from biomedical research to astronomy. He is currently focused on the eponymous series, "Joe's Big Idea." Stories in the series explore the minds and motivations of scientists and inventors. Palca is also the founder of NPR Scicommers – A science communication collective.