Which is better: the 2013 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor pickup truck, or NASA’s $2.5 billion Curiosity Mars Rover? With Curiosity expected to touchdown on Mars on Monday, Ford decided to stack the two off-road vehicles against each other with a comprehensive infographic.
First of all, allow us to begin with an important reminder: the Curiosity Mars Rover is not street legal, and Ford points out that you could purchase nearly 57,000 F-150 SVT Raptors for the total program cost of the Mars program. In other words, don’t allow this pseudo-comparison to tempt you into buying a space-bound robot instead of an Earth-bound pickup truck.
Although both vehicles are meant to traverse tough, off-road terrain, there are several important differences between them. While the F-150 SVT Raptor is available with a 411-hp, 6.2-liter V-8, the Curiosity Rover has a nuclear thermoelectric generator that uses ten pounds of decaying plutonium to create power. Ford says the F-150 SVT Raptor has a top speed of 100 mph, whereas Curiosity tops out at just 500 feet per hour — which is equivalent to a lethargic 0.1 mph.
On the other hand, Curiosity has the trump card when it comes to interplanetary travel. The Rover, tucked inside an orbiter launched from a rocket, traveled from Earth to Mars in about 263 days, averaging 56,000 mph. If it ran constantly at its top speed of 100 mph, the SVT Raptor would need 375 years — and hundreds of oil changes — to drive the equivalent distance. And let’s remember that, without an atmosphere abundant in oxygen and nitrogen, the Raptor’s big V-8 engine wouldn’t even run in space or on Mars.
Curiosity also has the advantage when it comes to electrics: the Rover is equipped with 14 cameras, spectrometers to measure the composition of various items on Mars’s surface, and scoops and drills to collect samples of soil and rocks. The F-150 SVT Raptor has front and rear cameras, as well as Bluetooth, iPod connectivity, and the SYNC voice-recognition software.
Finally, while Ford offers a five-year/60,000-mile warranty on the F-150 SVT Raptor, NASA is a little less generous with coverage. The space agency expects its Mars Rover to survive for just 687 Earth days (a little under two years) before the nuclear power source expires, in which time the vehicle will drive no more than 660 feet per day.
For a more thorough run-down of the similarities and differences between the 2013 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor and the NASA Curiosity Mars Rover, click here for Ford’s infographic.
Sources: Ford, NASA