Arkaroola Mars Robot Challenge Completes Expedition

Earlier this month I wrote about how pro-am teams from India and Australia are conducting Mars analog research in the Mars Society of Australia’s Arkaroola Mars Robot Challenge. The 16-day expedition concluded on July 20. Here are some highlights from the expedition diary and other sources:

The Times of India wrote the expedition's Indian members from the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay. The students - all members of the Mars Society of India - joined the expedition to test their Mars rover prototype. After a brief delay at Australian customs, the team soon had their rover traversing the expedition’s obstacle courses. Check out the Mars Society of India's Facebook page for pictures of their rover in action or this video:

All of the rover teams tested their designs in endurance and speed tests and drove the robots through various types of terrain, controlling it directly and telerobotically. The BlueSat Group, an undergraduate team from the University of New South Wales, used the expedition to test their rover design. You can follow their progress as they refine their design on the BlueSat website and Facebook page. Dr Graham Mann, led Murdoch University's rover team. Mann explained the benefits of desert analog research to the engineering school's newsletter “The desert terrain in this part of Australia is very much like the surface of Mars, so it’s a real workout for these robots.”

The Mars Robot Challenge had a strong focus on primary and secondary school science education. Nicci Hilton, an award-winning secondary school science teacher, joined the expedition as part of the Mars Society of Australia's Spacewards Bound program. Hilton blogged her experience conducting Mars-analog research and explores concepts for bringing that experience into the classroom. Dr. Ken Silward, fellow Spacewards Bound member and president of the Metropolitan South West Science Teachers Association, helped shoot this blooper video of science columnist Peter Spinks' report on the expedition. Science and mathematics teacher Tim Wheaton brought a quadrocopter to film the EVA's and rover tests: