Rover (space exploration)

space exploration vehicle designed to move across the surface of a planet or other celestial body

A rover is a vehicle that travels on the ground of a planet, moon, or other astronomical object. Some rovers carry people that drive them. Most are robots that can drive themselves for short distances, but humans on Earth give them directions each day about where to go and what to do. [1] They are electric vehicles, either using solar power or nuclear power.


  • Lunokhod 1 was sent by the Soviet Union, Lunokhod 1 was the first remote-controlled vehicle sent off the Earth.[2]
  • Apollo Lunar Roving Vehicle, also called a moon buggy, sent by NASA during the Apollo program, it was driven by astronauts.
  • Lunokhod 2 was sent to the Moon by the Soviet Union and arrived on the moon in January 1973 and lasted four months.[2]
  • Yutu (Chang'e 3), sent in 2013, was the first Chinese moon landing. It stopped moving 42 days after landing, but could perform other operations for nearly 2 more years. [3]
  • Yutu 2 (Chang'e 4) was sent in January 2019 by China and is still going.
The Mars Rover, Sojourner

The only rovers to successfully land on Mars were sent there by NASA. They have special equipment on arms for testing the soil, taking pictures and doing other planetary science.

  • Sojourner rover - The first Mars rover, this was a test vehicle to see if a solar vehicle would work on Mars. It landed on July 4th, 1997 and lasted nearly three months.
  • Spirit rover (MER-A) - Spirit and Opportunity were launched as a pair. Spirit landed January 4, 2004 and lasted a little over six years.
  • Opportunity rover (MER-B) - Landed January 25, 2004 and lasted a little over fourteen years until it was stopped by a dust storm.
  • Curiosity rover - A nuclear-powered rover, landed August, 2012 and is still going.
  • Perseverance rover - A nuclear-powered rover, landed July 30, 2020. It is still going, and accompanied Ingenuity helicopter on multiple flights until Ingenuity was damaged on January 18, 2024.


  1. "Exploring the solar system - Tools of Exploration - Rovers". Archived from the original on 2009-07-25. Retrieved 2013-01-03.
  2. 2.0 2.1 "NASA - Soviet Union Lunar Rovers". Archived from the original on 2018-11-02. Retrieved 2019-03-27.
  3. "In Depth | Yutu". Solar System Exploration: NASA Science. Archived from the original on 2019-03-27. Retrieved 2019-03-27.