Landers are constructed around a centerpiece that its power sources protrude from the side, while rovers power sources are usually built into the rear. Landers are a type of spacecraft built to land on a celestial body and never move from their landing site. What are the advantages of landers over rovers? Currently, I don't see very many advantages of landers over rovers, one disadvantage landers are at is they can't move. If there are any, what advantages do landers have over rovers.

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    $\begingroup$ I need ten more characters. Cost. $\endgroup$ Nov 9, 2022 at 17:42
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    $\begingroup$ I don't understand why you add in the first sentence. Some landers have their power sources in the center (e.g. Venera). Many (maybe most?) rovers have their power sources all around the top (famously the Mars Exploration Rovers). Power source location is not a way to distinguish between these two things. $\endgroup$
    – Erin Anne
    Nov 9, 2022 at 20:06
  • $\begingroup$ @ErinAnne Insight solar panel location: sides. Pheonix solar panel location: sides. MPL solar panel location: sides. Curiosity RTG location: rear. Perserverance RTG location: rear. You're right in some places though, Zhrohong (or whatever its name is): all over, but mostly sides and back. Spirit/Opportunity: back and middle. $\endgroup$ Nov 9, 2022 at 20:16
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    $\begingroup$ @ColonelCornieliusCornwall I didn't say there were no examples of those configurations; it was obvious what you were thinking of. I said that's not how you tell landers and rovers apart. It's not relevant to the distinction between the two. $\endgroup$
    – Erin Anne
    Nov 9, 2022 at 20:51
  • $\begingroup$ @ErinAnne ok. That's true, considering you can build either one however you want. $\endgroup$ Nov 9, 2022 at 21:02

3 Answers 3


Landers are simpler than rovers. A rover needs to do everything a lander can do (i.e. land) and more. Adding complexity adds weight, cost, and points of failure. If you can accomplish a goal by simply landing, it will always be easier and cheaper than landing and then moving somewhere else.

Rovers are simply not needed for all applications. Using a rover instead of a lander may be like buying a car when you don't actually need to go anywhere.

  • $\begingroup$ Of, you can make the lander as "complex" as the rover, so it does more things (albeit just sitting there). $\endgroup$
    – Jon Custer
    Nov 9, 2022 at 19:21
  • $\begingroup$ Using a rover is much worse than buying a car, in that cars are an off-the-shelf technology and you don't need to design and build them yourself! $\endgroup$
    – Cadence
    Nov 9, 2022 at 19:40

From a purely scientific perspective, there are several experiments that a rover platform cannot perform as well as a fix lander. Basically, take a look at the payload of InSight to see lander-optimized science payloads.

Seismic observation

A lander does not move and doesn't have things like wheels, motors, suspension, rocker-bogie systems, etc. between the main body and the surface of whatever celestial body it is located on. This gives the extremely stable and (hopefully) static platform of a lander the capability to measure even the tiniest of quakes or nearby impact events using an on-board seismograph

Weather and climate monitoring

Climate and more specifically weather data is more meaningful if the monitoring station doesn't move. If, for example, you want to analyze years of climate data and during that time period the sensors you were monitoring moved to somewhere else, that would potentially invalidate your conclusions.

Astronomy and large scale planetary science

Similarly to the stability that a lander provides for a precise seismographic measurements, space observation also benefits greatly from a stable platform. A telescope on board a rover that crosses bumpy terrain isn't that useful and similar long-range high-precision experiments also don't work as well. For example, the insight lander is equipped with a radio experiment (RISE) that's designed to perform extremely exact measurements so that properties about Mars's interior can be estimated.


In addition to the mechanical and electro-mechanical complexities of rovers compared to landers: motors, gears, wheels, bearings etc. there are operational complexities with rovers.

Because of the large distances between Earth and the locations where exploratory space craft are sent there will always be a time delay in sending and receiving communications between Earth and such craft.

Getting a lander to do anything is less complicated than getting a rover to do any thing, particularly move from one location to another. With a lander all that is required is a signal and software and things happen. With a rover, a move from one location to another needs to be carefully planned by humans on Earth and those instructions sent to the rover: path of travel, speed of travel and duration of travel. Rovers are not autonomous and they do not have enough, if any, artificial intelligence to determine their owning functioning.

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    $\begingroup$ All of NASA's Mars rovers have had some level of autonomous driving ability. Humans are still very much involved in the route planning process, but moment-to-moment navigational adjustments are handled by the rover's AI. Rovers generally are not controlled in real-time by humans sending every explicit instruction, they absolutely do have sufficient AI to autonomously determine some aspects of their own functioning. $\endgroup$ Nov 11, 2022 at 15:32

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