NASA has provided a cheap and safe way to explore the surface of Mars.

NASA’s new video game is designed to let players drive the Curiosity Rover over the rugged terrain of our solar neighbour.

Mars Rover lets users drive across the red planet, collecting points while searching for underground water caverns.

The game demonstrates a real radar-scanning technique that NASA's next Mars rover, to be launched in 2020, will use to search for underground water.

“We're excited about a new way for people on the go to engage with Curiosity's current adventures on Mars and future exploration by NASA's Mars 2020 rover too,” said Michelle Viotti from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

“Using social networks, the user can share the fun with friends. The interest that is shared through game play also helps us open a door to deeper literacy in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.”

The game is accessible here

Meanwhile, on Mars, Curiosity has marked its fourth anniversary (in Earth years) since landing.

The rover does not get a day off for the occasion though, working hard on collecting its 17th rock sample.

In its latest update, NASA said the rover has driven to position for drilling into a rock target called ‘Marimba’, to acquire rock powder for onboard laboratory analysis.

Curiosity is part way through a multi-month ascent of a mudstone geological formation, as it heads toward higher and progressively younger geological evidence on Mount Sharp, including some rock types not yet explored.

A video update is available below.