Free the MSL Robot

What’s a planetary rover?

EV3 Classroom-Programs 0-program en-gb

The Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) robot is a radioisotope thermoelectric-powered rover that’s been exploring the Martian surface since 2012.

How can planetary rovers like the MSL robot help humans to explore other planets?

The MSL robot is stuck!


Free the MSL robot from the crater so that it can continue on its mission to study the Martian surface. This is an expensive robot, and we urgently need your help to free it!

Think of ways in which your robot could free the MSL robot from the crater and return it to the Martian surface.

Brainstorm ideas for solving the mission.


You can split the main task into smaller subtasks, and brainstorm about questions like:

  • Can you think of some ways in which the robot could navigate to the crater?
  • Which type of motorised mechanism could be used to free the MSL robot?

Build, program and test your robot.


Continue working on your robot until you’re ready to complete the mission.


Achievement Badges

The four levels of badges that you can earn for this mission are:

Platinum Badge
Phew! You’ve rescued the MSL robot from the crater. All six of its wheels are back on the Martian surface, and it’s ready to continue its mission. You also went beyond the mission requirements by adding features to your design. Great job!

Gold Badge
You’ve rescued the MSL robot from the crater. All six of its wheels are back on the Martian surface, and it’s ready to continue its mission. You’ve done well completing this very important task and have achieved the objective. Science thanks you!

Silver Badge
You’ve moved the MSL robot from its original position but it’s still touching the crater, or some of its wheels aren’t touching the Martian surface. Despite these problems, we still think that we can free it. Thanks for all of your hard work!

Bronze Badge
The MSL robot hasn’t been removed from the crater but a clear attempt has been made. You should be proud of yourself. We’ll have to send out another robot to free it, but we’re glad that you’ve tried.

Go for it!


Set up your robot in the base area and send it out for a judged attempt at this mission.

Mission Rules

Remember to follow these rules as you’re attempting to complete the mission:

  • Your robot must always start the mission from the base area.
  • Your robot must leave the base area before carrying out the mission.
  • A ‘successful robot return’ occurs when any part of the robot crosses over any part of the base area line.
  • You’re not allowed to touch your robot while it’s outside of the base area.
  • If you touch your robot while it’s entirely outside of the base area and it’s holding an object, the object must be returned to its original position, and you must begin the mission again.

How did you do?


Which badge did you achieve? If you have enough time, you can try again for a better result.

The MSL robot is back on track… and you’re on to your next mission!