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NASA's Curiosity rover is a 'car-sized, six-wheeled robot' on the surface of Mars. The phrase car-sized caught my eye - car... Hmm...

Could future Mars explorers potentially find the rover and use it for utility purposes? By utility purposes I mean anything that would leverage the rover for transportation of people/supplies in a way that would be more efficient than just having people do it.

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Short Answer: No.

The maximum speed of curiosity is around 90 meters per hour with a 'cruising' speed of around 30 meters per hour. Average human walking speed is around 5000 meters per hour (that's 5km/h or around 3 miles per hour).

The various Mars-rovers simply aren't built for long-range travel, aiming more for a lifetime max of a few kilometers of travel.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Curiosity_Rover

That said, there might be some chance of salvaging parts from the probably long-dead rover(s). Precision-machined metal-parts might be hard to come by on Mars, but that brings up it's own set of problems. A permanent human colony on Mars is going to have it's own set of needs, and trying to set-up shop nearby any of the rovers is going to limit options far too much. It is probably not worth the effort to get the rover.

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    $\begingroup$ Re your last point about precision-machined parts, that's why everyone is hopeful about space application of 3D printing technologies. Another point worth mentioning is also that rovers themselves might be a fair distance from any landing locations of future colonizers and natural obstacles separating them. It might be nigh impossible to tell some (if still functioning) rover to find its way to wherever the colony would be, or way too laborious to retrieve it otherwise. Good answer tho. ;) $\endgroup$ – TildalWave Oct 24 '13 at 21:37
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    $\begingroup$ @TildalWave - agreed - 3D printing would be a boon to any remote outpost, space-stations and antarctic bases included. $\endgroup$ – john3103 Oct 25 '13 at 3:54
  • $\begingroup$ I thought the radiation from the RTG might be an issue, but as it turns out, an RTG powered by Pu-238 is shielded sufficiently by its outer casing that it's safe to work right next to the RTG. $\endgroup$ – Hobbes Oct 25 '13 at 20:15
  • $\begingroup$ Although that does mean the power will decrease over the next few decades, AND it mean there's essentially nuclear waste to deal with. The RTG is another asset that really isn't as great as it might sound. $\endgroup$ – john3103 Oct 25 '13 at 20:54
  • $\begingroup$ @john3103 To quote The Martian, "RTGs are great for probes, but if it ruptures around humans... No more humans." $\endgroup$ – UIDAlexD Oct 25 '16 at 15:02

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