Washington | Four groups of Indian students are among 80 teams that will participate in NASA’s Human Exploration Rover Challenge to create human-powered rovers designed to explore the surface of Mars, distant planets, asteroids or moons. Almost 80 teams from India, US, Italy, Germany, Mexico, Colombia, Russia and Puerto Rico, will compete in the NASA’s annual Rover Challenge which starts on April 8 at the US Space and Rocket Centre in Alabama.
These include teams from the Mukesh Patel School of Technology Management and Engineering in Maharashtra, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Roorkee in Uttarakhand, Sathyabama University in Tamil Nadu and Skyline Institute of Engineering and Technology in Uttar Pradesh. The rover challenge requires student teams to design, construct, test and race human-powered rovers through an obstacle course that simulates the terrain potentially found on distant planets, asteroids or moons.
Teams race to finish the three-quarter-mile-long obstacle course in the fastest time, vying for prizes in various divisions. The event concludes on April 9 at the Davidson Centre for Space Exploration, where awards will be presented for best design, rookie team, pit crew award and other accomplishments, NASA said.
This year’s event incorporates two new and important changes. Teams now are required to design and fabricate their own wheels. Any component contacting the course surface for traction and mobility, including, but not limited to wheels, tracks, treads or belts cannot be purchased or considered an off-the-shelf product.
The second new feature is an optional Sample Return challenge. Teams competing in this separate competition will collect four samples – liquid, small pebbles, large rocks and soil samples – using a mechanical arm or grabber they design and build. The Human Exploration Rover Challenge highlights NASA’s goals for future exploration to Mars and beyond. Inspired by the lunar roving vehicles of the Apollo moon missions, the competition challenges students to solve engineering problems.
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