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Electric Cars on Earth and Mars: How They Stack Up


NASA's tiny Sojourner rover hit the red dirt in 1997, followed by the golf-cart-size twins Spirit and Opportunity in 2004. And last August, the 1-ton Curiosity rover dropped in to determine whether Mars could ever have supported microbial life.

All three generations of six-wheeled NASA rovers have used electric power systems of various design and complexity to find their way around the Red Planet.

Most electric cars on the road today rely on lithium-ion batteries, which must be plugged in and recharged on a regular basis. Mars rovers are millions of miles from the nearest electrical outlets or charging station, so they take a different tack.


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