VSSEC Mars Rover at University of WA Spice

VSSEC Mars Rover at University of WA Spice

During one of the sessions at the recent Australian Mars Exploration Conference (AMEC) held over the weekend of the 23rd and 24th of July attendees were treated to a demonstration of the new remote robotic rover situated on the Mars floor at VSSEC. 

The session provided teachers, students and scientists an opportunity to see (remotely) the simulated Mars terrain, but also get a chance to see what the rover was capable of and a taste of the new student program aimed at Year 9 and 10 students.

Mark Gargano (Mars Society Australia) and Jenny Gull (UWA Spice Centre for Learning Technologies) provided background on VSSEC and some of their other activities, such as the Mission to Mars then Naomi Mathers was introduced via Skype and 12 terminals providing the science and engineering tasks were brought online.

After seeing the rover in action, interested delegates then moved around the room to see the specific tasks that students would need to complete when engaged in one of the set roles. A task that the group found of interest was the site selection activity, the participants all wondered if students, just like NASA would also come to the conclusion that Gale Crater was the best site for the Mars Science Laboratory and what their reasons may be.

Even though only a brief 45 minute exposure to this program, attendees got a great overview of this new exciting activity and how important team work and collaboration was to successfully complete tasks. Delegates from all over Australia and overseas, including scientists, engineers, teachers and tertiary students gave their positive feedback about the activities and how exciting it is these days to be a secondary student and be able to participate in real-time engaging science such as the Remote Mars Rover at VSSEC.

Mars Society Australia (MSA) would like to acknowledge Naomi Mathers for giving up her late Saturday afternoon for this session and for providing a demonstration of this brand new program during AMEC. In Western Australia, if you would like any information about this program, student research activities or MSA please contact Mark Gargano (mark.gargano@curtin.edu.au) or Jenny Gull (Jenny.Gull@uwa.edu.au) at UWA Spice. The Spice group was established to provide support to Department of Education Schools with the implementation of technologies and specialist science programs to enhance curriculum and support teachers within WA.

Mark Gargano
Mars Society Australia