Space

Drivers Line Up For NASA SUV

Everybody wants a turn at the wheel on Mars

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NASA engineer Brian Cooper watches as the mock-up of the Mars rover inches over jagged lava rocks that would have stopped previous versions.

The "Mars Yard" at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory is meant to be a torture test, but this rover is crushing every piece of it beneath its six, snare-drum-sized aluminum wheels.

"We've essentially put a monster truck on Mars," Cooper said as he guided the robot across the landscape in La Cañada Flintridge with his iPhone. Of course, the real rover on Mars won't be so easy, requiring thousands of lines of programming to make its way.