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Caltech gets another Mars rover, but this one's gingerbread

December 13, 2012 |  9:49 am

Gingerbread Mars Rover

In yet another breathtaking Caltech breakthrough, the world’s only edible Mars rover is on display at the Atheneum -- the university's private club and inn -- this month.

The gingerbread rover, in the Athenaeum lobby, features a base made largely of licorice and is otherwise composed mostly of gingerbread and candy. However, Executive Chef Kevin Isaacson allowed that “there is some Home Depot stuff in there,” as the rover required a strong wooden base and a few inedible rods.

Detail of gingerbread rover.Alluding to a famed NASA space shuttle, Isaacsaon, said he was “challenged” to make the piece, topping last year’s gingerbread version of Santa’s Village.

Isaacson said it took about 10 days to complete the rover, and that engineers at Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the La Cañada Flintridge rocket lab overseen by Caltech, provided a model for Isaacson to study.

As can be expected, JPL engineers also gave his handiwork a detailed look.

Marisu Jimenez, general manager of the Athenaeum, said JPL engineers used the club for a holiday party on Dec. 1, and they were quick to point out “technical deficiencies” in the gingerbread rover. It is not clear if the Santa Claus or Darth Vader figures, or the candy cane sticking out of the roof of the vehicle, were parts of the problem.

While the real rover Curiosity is on a two-year mission to study elements on the Red Planet, the gingerbread version won’t last so long. It’s gone after the holidays, Isaacson said.

“After a month [on display], nobody really wants to eat it,” he said. “It’ll go in the Dumpster or it’ll have ants all over it.”


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Photos: Chef Kevin Isacsson talks with visitors about his gingerbread Mars rover; detail of gingerbread rover.  Credit: Raul Roa / Times Community News