Mars Robotics Laboratory

Activities are integrated into a robotics theme which challenges students to work cooperatively in teams to complete a NASA mission; using the robots and the guided activities at each station, prepare a site on Mars for future human habitation. Students are encouraged to explore careers in technology, engineering and science through this special focus in the field of robotics.

Mission Descriptions

  • Rover Trainer

    Students will be given an introduction to robot parts. After a brief demonstration of how light and touch sensors work, students will build a robot and learn about gear ratio's. Students will demonstrate the concepts of gear ratios with the robot that they built.

  • Mars Rover Design

    Students will build a more sophisticated robot that will utilize sensors to accomplish various missions. Students will also learn how to program their robot vehicle.

  • Surface Excavation

    Students will program the Rover to clear a 9 square foot surface for a future Mars Habitat. Students will build a plow of their design and devise a strategy in order to excavate the surface.

  • Surface Scan

    Once the surface is excavated, Students will scan the surface for light in order to determine if the surface is suitable for a solar power station for a future Mars Habitat. Students will be able to calculate the area of illuminated surface based on the data uploaded from the Rover.

  • Sample Retrieval

    Students will construct an upper stage that utilizes a motor and worm gear assembly to be used in the retrieval of Martian rock samples. Students will problem solve to develop the best design for the retrieval arm.

  • Linear Control

    Students will derive a linear equation based on the Motor Power Range and the Light Sensor Range in order to control the Motor Speed based on Light Sensor Values. The Motor Speed will vary proportionally to the Light that is detected. In this way we can slow the Rover down for a very slow scan based on the light that is detected.

  • Obstacle Course

    Students will utilize two touch sensors in order to make the robot turn in addition to going straight. Students will compete to see who can navigate the Mars Obstacle Course in the least amount of time.

  • NQC Programming

    In the Not Quite C (NQC) language programs, students are exposed to the fundamental C++ language programming commands that drive the RoboLabTM graphic commands. Students will seek out a fissure in the polar ice cap while playing "Frosty the Snowman".