Following on the heels of our report of yesterday's Nasa announcement, Schenectady High School will send a dozen students and their rover to the Nasa Sample Return Rover Challenge next week where they will compete with teams from around the world in a simulated Mars rover mission.
Nasa created its Centennial Challenge program to open the space agency's research and development to new ideas. Challenges bring in people from the private sector and universities who would not normally compete for Nasa contracts. The Sample Return Rover Challenge aims to find fresh ideas for an upcoming Mars 2020 rover mission that will collect samples of the Martian geology in advance of a second robotic mission to bring the samples back to Earth.
The Schenectady Retrievers are the only high school team in a field of college teams and adult roboticists from the US, Canada, and Europe. That has gotten a lot of attention from the hometown press as local newspapers and TV stations celebrate the students' underdog attempt to compete for the $1.5 million in prize money.