ROADS on Mars mini-challenge winners — “Search for Signs of (Past) Life” (part 1)

We are very pleased to begin announcing some of the prize-winning teams from the ROADS on Mars Student Challenge mini-challenges!

Today we’re announcing a few of the prize-winning teams of the Search for Signs of (Past) Life mini-challenge. This goal of this challenge was:

To seek out Earth analogues of “signs of past life” in the team’s local environment. By searching for microbial life in their own community, team members will begin to gain experience in the detection of terrestrial life that cannot be easily seen by the human eye.

Team members were to first seek signs of methane using a handheld detector and then take a sample of the area to review under a microscope. They took video of their explorations and posted them to social media.

Congratulations, ROADS teams!!

* Not all hubs have finished selecting their top teams for the mini-challenges, and we’ll be announcing each mini-challenge on separate days. So the list below is a partial list of the top teams for this mini-challenge. Stay tuned as more winners are announced!

Alaska

Oosik’s — a Curiosity team from Kiita Learning Community in Barrow, AK.

Arizona

Aries — an Opportunity team from Tuba City Boarding School in Tuba City, AZ.

California

AMA Bros. — a Curiosity team from Hercules High School UAVs in Hercules, CA. See their prize-winning YouTube post here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UhlQRcZv2xE

DMV

  • FIRE AERO MS — an Opportunity team from FIRE – Future Innovative RIsing Engineers in Upper Marlboro, MD.
  • FIRE AERO HS — a Curiosity team from FIRE – Future Innovative Rising Engineers in Upper Marlboro, MD.

See their prize-winning Twitter posts here:

Montana

NewJersey

Millburn — a Curiosity team from Millburn High School in Millburn, NJ. See their prize-winning YouTube post here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ZSey0o0Br8

NewMexico

Cuh-yotes — a Curiosity team from Roswell High School MESA in Roswell, NM. See their prize-winning YouTube post here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dYDMFSG3Wkw

Oregon

Texas

South Belton Middle School — an Opportunity team from South Belton Middle School in Belton, TX. See their prize-winning Facebook post here: https://www.facebook.com/southbelton/videos/2935019906516733/

Washington

WSSB Explorers — a Sojourner team from Washington State School for the Blind in Vancouver, WA. See their prize-winning Facebook post here: https://www.facebook.com/Sch4Blind/videos/1024446564601617/

Virtual

BearsInSpace — a Curiosity team from Chittenango, NY. See their prize-winning Twitter post here: https://twitter.com/CHSBearsInSpace/status/1217541708826710016

ROADS on Mars / ROADS Freestyle — News for teams (May 13, 2020)

G’day, Mars enthusiasts!

How do you make the journey from doing robotics competitions in high school to working at Houston’s Mission Control?  Well, we just so happen to know someone who’s done exactly that!

“Meet an Expert” series

We’ve had some great “Meet an Expert” chats this spring, with another one coming up this week!  Hope you’ll be able to join us, because this is going to be exciting….

“Meet an Expert” — Ben Honey from Mission Control

What’s it like to work in Mission Control at Johnson Space Center?  Ben Honey is joining us on Zoom to tell us all about it!  “Ben has always loved space exploration, but his first love was astronomy and planetary science. He changed focus to engineering after joining the FRC (FIRST Robotics Competition) club in high school.”

Details:

“Meet an Expert” — Series archives

If you’ve missed any of our previous chats, you can access them anytime on our YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q1mqPwuC2YI&list=PL1p2GTGjWAoh7yFlgWCJS31Y4-OK9rd8T

Mars2020 progress

The NASA team at Kennedy Space Center continues to progress on preparing the Perseverance rover for its mission to the Red Planet.  Mars and the Earth are in alignment for space travel only every few years, so this July’s launch is an important window that can’t be missed.

You can follow along with the rover’s preparations on NASA’s Mars2020 blog:

Where’s Mars in the sky?

Can you see Mars in the sky right now?  Well, maybe if you’re an early bird (or a night owl who’s up very, very late).  Here’s an excerpt from Sky & Telescope’s “Sky at a Glance” says for May 8–16:

Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn shine in the southeast to south before and during early dawn.  Jupiter, the brightest, is on the right. Before dawn begins, spot the Sagittarius Teapot to the right of it. Saturn glows pale yellow to Jupiter’s left. Mars is much farther to Saturn’s left or lower left. In a telescope Mars is no longer a tiny blob but a little gibbous disk. Mars is on its way to an excellent opposition in early October.

Opposition, in astronomy terms, is when Mars will be on the opposite side of the Earth from the sun.  We see the moon in an approximate opposition every month during full moon.  When the moon is in a more exact opposition with the Earth and sun, we have a lunar eclipse.

Mars, of course, is much too far away to be eclipsed by the Earth’s shadow, but its opposition in October will be an excellent opportunity to view the planet in the night sky.

ROADS on Mars Student Challenge update

The ROADS on Mars Student Challenge remains on hold for the time being.  But we are excited to (finally) be announcing some of the prize-winning mini-challenge teams!  The first wave of top teams for the Landscape Morphology mini-challenge are up on our website: https://nwessp.org/2020/05/roads-on-mars-mini-challenge-winners-landscape-morphology-part-1/  More mini-challenge top teams will be announced in the coming weeks!

ROADS Freestyle Challenge update

Freestyle teams, don’t forget that your submissions are due by Monday, May 18!  The submission form is live on our website: https://nwessp.org/programs/pages/challenges/current/mars-freestyle/submit/

Stay safe!  Keep your rovers at the ready.  And above all — have FUN.

ROADS on Mars mini-challenge winners — “Landscape Morphology” (part 1)

We are very pleased to begin announcing some of the prize-winning teams from the ROADS on Mars Student Challenge mini-challenges!

Today we’re announcing a few of the prize-winning teams of the Landscape Morphology mini-challenge. This goal of this challenge was:

Study how environments are modified by the action of water that may have formed the delta, and high velocity impacts that produce the catering in the vicinity of the Jerezo crater. This component, called Landscape Morphology, is particularly relevant today where regions are being impacted by record breaking storms each year.

Team members were to first theorize their own ideas about what might have created the features of Jezero crater and then test their theories by devising and carrying out an experiment. They took video of their experiments and posted them to social media.

Congratulations, ROADS teams!!

* Not all hubs have finished selecting their top teams for the mini-challenges, and we’ll be announcing each mini-challenge on separate days. So the list below is a partial list of the top teams for this mini-challenge. Stay tuned as more winners are announced!

Arizona

The Flaming Llamacorns — an Opportunity team from Thatcher Elementary School in Thatcher, AZ. See their prize-winning YouTube post here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uVYulQ5IxKE

California

Flight Team Five — an Opportunity team from Los Angeles Academy Middle School in Los Angeles, CA. See their prize-winning Instagram post here: https://www.instagram.com/p/B6Tg7NdDfnm/

Dakotas

Kerbal Krew — a Curiosity team from Spearfish Robotics Club in Spearfish, SD. See their prize-winning YouTube post here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YGTpl5d-0MM

DMV

Montana

Nevada

New Jersey

Millburn — a Curiosity team from Millburn High School in Millburn, NJ. See their prize-winning YouTube post here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zw3mt9D67iI

New Mexico

R4Robotics — a Curiosity team from R4Creating in Rio Rancho, NM. See their prize-winning Facebook post here: https://www.facebook.com/R4Creating/posts/2540227559588147

Oklahoma

Gobble Obble — an Opportunity team from Homeschool Group in Noble, OK. See their prize-winning Facebook post here: https://www.facebook.com/dagobble.obble.9/videos/120030312890881/

Oregon

Elbot 3000 — a Curiosity team from Stayton High School in Stayton, OR, OR. See their prize-winning Instagram post here: https://www.instagram.com/tv/B7chWxHp8uV/

Texas

Sunray Bobcats Ares X-plorer — an Opportunity team from Sunray Middle School in Sunray, TX. See their prize-winning Facebook post here: https://www.facebook.com/SBAX2020/posts/108818827324128

Utah

Patriot Robotics Operators (PROs) — a Curiosity team from Providence Hall High School in Herriman, UT. See their prize-winning Instagram post here: https://www.instagram.com/p/B6UH230Asgl/

Washington

DAB’EM — an Opportunity team from Roosevelt Elementary in Port Angeles, WA. See their prize-winning Facebook post here: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=2403818296599463

Virtual

Rivergold Flight Crew — a Spirit team from Rivergold Elementary School in Coarsegold, CA. See their prize-winning Facebook post here: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=2403818296599463

ROADS Freestyle — News for teams (May 1, 2020)

G’day, ROADS Freestyle teams!

First things first.  If you haven’t heard …

ROADS Freestyle — Submission date extended!

That’s right, you have a few more weeks to finish up your mission and send your submission materials to us.  Submissions are now due on Monday, May 18.  We’ll have a submissions portal on our website soon.

Also….

Virtual meeting for team support — Tuesday, May 5

Have questions about the ROADS Freestyle Challenge?  Chat with NESSP on Tuesday, May 5, to get answers.  And don’t forget that you can always submit questions to us via email: nwessp@uw.edu

Details:

  • Tuesday, May 5
  • 1 p.m. (Pacific Time) / 4 p.m. (Eastern Time)
  • Platform: Zoom

Instructions for joining us on Zoom:

You can join us two ways:

1) The meeting will be online using Zoom. To access both audio and video, join the meeting using this link: https://washington.zoom.us/j/5555431943

We recommend taking a few minutes prior to the meeting time to set up Zoom so that you don’t miss the first few minutes of the chat!

2)  To listen to the audio only, use either of these access phone numbers:

+1-669-900-6833. Meeting ID: 5555431943#; then press # again. (U.S.; San Jose.)

+1-646-876-9923. Meeting ID: 5555431943#; then press # again. (U.S.; New York.)

See you soon!

ROADS on Mars / ROADS Freestyle — News for teams (April 10, 2020)

“Meet an Expert” series

Earlier this week we had an amazing Zoom session with astronaut Fred Haise of the Apollo 13 crew.  And next week our “Meet an Expert” series will feature another planetary protection expert.

Fred Haise — Now up on YouTube

We’ve posted the video from our Zoom chat with Fred Haise to our YouTube channel.  If you’ve missed any of our past “Meet an Expert” sessions, you can also catch up on them there.

“Meet an Expert” — André Galli

For our next “Meet an Expert” chat, André Galli from the University of Bern in Switzerland will join us to delve more into planetary protection!  Students will have time for Q&A with André after his presentation.

Details:

ROADS Freestyle — Submission date extended!

We’ve extended the submission date for the ROADS Free Challenge.  Freestyle teams now have up to May 18 to get their submissions to us.

Haven’t signed up for the Freestyle challenge yet?  There’s also still plenty of time to register.  Details on the challenge are at: https://nwessp.org/mars-freestyle/

ROADS on Mars / ROADS Freestyle — News for teams (March 31, 2020)

ROADS Freestyle Challenge

If your Mars skills feel like they’re going dull with so many activities suspended right now, we have great news for you!  We’ve launched a new challenge that any team can do even while observing “safer-at-home” policies in place for coronavirus.  It’s called ROADS on Mars Freestyle Challenge and registration is now open!

About the Freestyle challenge

  • Roughly follows the objectives of the original ROADS on Mars challenge, but only uses items your team members in their homes.
  • Still a team activity (not a solo adventure!), so one of the challenges is to devise how your team will work together while also staying safe under “stay-at-home” policies.
  • Is a completely separate challenge from the original ROADS on Mars — which, yes, means your team’s progress on ROADS doesn’t really count toward Freestyle.  However….
  • Is open to all K–12 students in the U.S. whether or not they registered for the original ROADS.  So if you didn’t get to register for ROADS, now is your chance to sign up for a Mars mission!  (And if you did sign up for the original ROADS, this is a nice opportunity for your team to keep working together toward Mars.)

Prizes!

  • Top prize is a trip to a NASA center!  (Date to be determined, of course.)
  • “Best in Mission Objective” prize for most of the Mission Objectives.

Details

  • Register by:  Monday, April 13
  • Submit your team’s mission documentation by:  Monday, April 27
  • Freestyle website

In particular, please review the details — and download a copy of the Mission Objectives document — on the Freestyle Details page!  And if you have any questions, please email us: nwessp@uw.edu

Cool things to watch online

Our most recent “Meet an Expert” Zoom chat was last week — if you missed it, it’s now up on our website and YouTube.  We also have another one coming up next week, plus a recommendation for some lectures from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.  We know that joining a webinar can be tough right now, not least because everyone else is clogging up the internet trying to do the same thing, but if you’re able to tune into any of these, we think you’ll find them useful.

Upcoming “Meet an Expert”

We are SO excited that our next expert chat will be with none other than Fred Haise, one of the Apollo 13 astronauts!  We really hope you’ll join us for this one!

Last week’s “Meet an Expert”

On March 26 we chatted with John Rummel, a senior scientist at the SETI Institute, about “planetary protection” — aka, keeping Earth (and other solar system bodies) safe from microbes.  If you missed it, you can view the archived video on our website.

Lecture webcasts from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

JPL has some pretty cool talks coming up as part of their von Kármán Lecture Series, and they’ve taken them online.  Check these out if you can!

ROADS on Mars — News for teams (March 24, 2020)

G’day, ROADS on Mars teams!

Meet an expert

We hope you can join us this Thursday, March 26, for another of our “Meet an Expert” chats! John Rummel, a senior scientist at the SETI Institute, will join us for an hour to talk on a subject that may sound very familiar right now — planetary protection. How do we keep Earth from getting contaminated by microbes from space? How do we protect other bodies in the solar system (Mars, for example!) from becoming contaminated by organisms from Earth? When the Apollo 11 astronauts returned from that first mission to the moon, they were quarantined for nearly a month in a special Airstream trailer. What does planetary protection look like in our modern era? John’s talk will cover the rationale for planetary protection considerations and its implementation during interplanetary journeys.

Details:

Important ROADS announcement coming Thursday!

The ROADS on Mars challenge may be indefinitely suspended — but you don’t have to step off the ROAD(s) just yet. NESSP has been brainstorming ideas on how we can continue working on our mission even while we’re grounded, and on Thursday we’ll have an exciting announcement on our new, ROADS-related project. Join us for our “Meet an Expert” chat to get all the details. Or, if you can’t join us on Zoom, check out our website Thursday afternoon (Pacific Time) for details to go live.

NESSP suspends in-person activities until further notice

As you are all aware, the coronavirus outbreak has been declared a pandemic and schools are being closed nationwide.

ROADS on Mars Student Challenge

We do not want students attempting to complete the challenge and running the risk of being infected. Therefore, to ensure everyone’s safety we are indefinitely suspending the ROADS on Mars Student Challenge. Your efforts will not have been in vain as we WILL restart the program once an all clear is given to health authorities — we will keep the objectives unchanged and there will still be the funded trips to a NASA Center.

We also plan on having a few additional science matter expert talks, so please stay tuned! We will announce upcoming online activities — and the restart of the challenge — as details are available.

Educator summit

We are cancelling our educator summit, planned for June 2020 in Seattle, with the hope that we may be able to reschedule for later in the summer.

Summer 2020 camps

We are putting NESSP summer camps for 2020 on hold until further notice.

ROADS on Mars — News for teams (March 13, 2020)

Even though our challenge events are suspended indefinitely, that doesn’t mean the road has come to an end. We’ll be continuing with our virtual “Meet a NASA Expert” chats, so keep your Zoom app at the ready. We’ll also be sending more ROADS newsletters in the coming weeks so that we can all continue to collaborate on this mission even while we’re grounded.

We’ve very happy to announce that our next expert chat will happen on March 24. Join us to talk with John Rummel, senior scientist at the SETI Institute!

Details:

We’ll send out a reminder before the event. We hope you’ll join us!

NESSP transitions ROADS on Mars hub events to virtual

As our ROADS on Mars Student Challenge nears its spring hub events, we have watched as the COVID-19 outbreak moves across the United States. To make sure all our teams have the chance to complete the final ROADS challenge in a way that keeps everyone safe and healthy while also making sure everyone still has a shot at the top prize, NESSP is transitioning our hub final challenge events to virtual events.

NESSP Director Robert Winglee writes:

Thank you all for participating in the ROADS on Mars Student Challenge. I have watched in awe the postings that are on social media already. Great job everyone! I hope you continue the challenge — and the new challenge that will be announced later this year.

As you are maybe aware, coronavrius is in the U.S. Out of an abundance of caution and to do our part in limiting the spread of the virus, all challenge events for ROADS on Mars Student Challenge will now be virtual. Some of the hubs will just have teams run through the challenge live on streaming video, others will just have you submit your challenge online, and others may be a hybrid of these approaches. Please check our website regularly for updates: nwessp.org/mars

As for the grand prize, we still intend to make the launch of Mars2020 if the coronavirus threat diminishes before the launch. If it does not diminish, winning teams will still have the opportunity to visit a NASA Center at a later time when the coronavirus threat is diminished — so please keep working at the challenge!

All hubs will still hold a (virtual) final challenge event to select their top teams. We will post updated dates and details on how “virtual” will work for each hub as information is available.

Top teams will still receive a grand prize. We will send top teams to Kennedy Space Center for the launch of the Mars2020 / Perseverance rover this summer if travel is safe. If the launch is scrubbed, teams will have the opportunity to visit a NASA Center at a later time.

Exploring space comes with its share of unforeseen complications. Fifty years ago this spring, the crew of Apollo 13 experienced an incident with their craft that caused NASA to scrub that mission’s moon landing. But with all of NASA working together as a team, the three astronauts returned safely to Earth. NESSP is working closely with our challenge hubs to make sure ROADS teams can complete their mission.

We are still excited to see how each team tackles the ROADS challenge — we’re looking forward to exploring Mars with you!

ROADS on Mars — News for teams (Feb. 21, 2020)

Today we bring you some resources that may be helpful on your ROADS mission.

Subject matter experts

Have you missed any of our “Meet a NASA Expert” talks? We have them all archived! You can find them on our website or on our YouTube channel:

Q&A with NESSP for teams

If you missed any of the Q&A sessions that we’ve held for ROADS teams, we have those on YouTube as well!

Equipment resources

If you’re trying to get the hang of your ROADS on Mars equipment, we also have some resources for you that may be helpful:

Register to run a ROADS on Mars summer program!

Summer Registration for our ROADS on Mars Student Challenge is now open!  We would like to encourage NESSP Partners, past NESSP Challenge Teams (ANGLeS), and past NESSP Summer Camp Leads to sign up through our central registration system: nwessp.org/mars/about/registration.

If you have run a NESSP Summer Camp in the past, please note that this year we will primarily be running camps through our ROADS on Mars activities.  After registering, we will contact you with additional paperwork and supply information.

More information about ROADS on Mars can be found at nwessp.org/mars/.   Please contact nwessp@uw.edu with questions!

ROADS on Mars — News for teams (Feb. 12, 2020)

Our next “Meet a NASA Expert” video conference is coming up this week. Details are below — but first, some information on the mini-challenges.

ROADS on Mars mini-challenge submissions

We hope you’ve been working on your ROADS mini-challenges. We’ve loved the videos we’ve seen on social media so far! Don’t forget to submit them to NESSP so that your hub can score them.

Submissions page — https://nwessp.org/mars/teams/submissions/. If you visit the NESSP website on a computer, you’ll see a white button that says “Mini-challenge submissions!” on the right-hand side. Or you can select “Mini-challenge submission” from the dropdown menu on the top navigation bar.

Have you had problems uploading your video? Don’t forget that the videos (and mission patch photos) are optional! The important thing is to submit at least one link to a social media post.

“Meet a NASA Expert” — Joanna Hogancamp

Our next ROADS on Mars subject matter expert video conference is Thursday, February 13. Joanna Hogancamp from Johnson Space Center will join us. Joanna is part of the Mars research group and conducts laboratory experiments that aim to better understand data from the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument on the Curiosity rover! There will be time for questions after Joanna’s talk.

We’ll start at 2 p.m. (Pacific Time).

  • You can join us online (which gives you both audio and video). Zoom will ask if you’d like to use the app or the website: https://washington.zoom.us/j/5555431943
  • You can join us via phone (which gives you audio only). Dial +1 669 900 6833 US (San Jose) or +1 646 876 9923 US (New York) and enter meeting ID # 555-543-1943.

More details on using Zoom are on our website.

Not able to make it? Or missed any of our previous expert chats? You can find them on our website: https://nwessp.org/resources/type/subject-matter-experts/

Team support Q&A with NESSP staff

Have questions about the ROADS challenge? Join us Thursday, February 13, at 3 p.m. (Pacific Time) — yes, right after the chat with Joanna! — to talk with NESSP staff about the challenge.

The ROADS on Mars Student Challenge

Sojourner.
Spirit.
Opportunity.
Curiosity.

Sojourner. Spirit. Opportunity. Curiosity.

These are the four rovers NASA has sent to Mars so far — but more than that, their names represent what drives the teams behind the rovers.

Are you a sojourner? Do you have spirit and curiosity? Are you ready to launch when the next opportunity arises?

The ROADS on Mars challenge gives teams of students grades 3–12 a chance to tackle a mission to Mars, following in the path of the next rover — Mars 2020. Just like the next rover, teams will face challenges including engineering and programming, analysis of biological signatures and geologic features, not to mention flying to Mars and successfully landing.

Top teams from across the country will win a trip to Kennedy Space Center for the launch of Mars 2020!

Challenge walkthrough with Robert

In this video, NESSP Director Robert Winglee gives a walkthrough of most aspects of the ROADS Challenge during a webinar with educators and hub organizers.

ROADS on Mars (soft) launch 🚀

Thank you to everyone who patiently waited out our technical difficulties yesterday and was able to join us for our launch of the ROADS on Mars Challenge.

Our sincerest apologies to everyone who tried to join us and encountered our meeting ID error problem.

For everyone who couldn’t join us, or who just wants to review the information presented, you can access a video of the meeting on our YouTube channel. The video is also presented below for convenience, followed by a list of the questions asked during the Q&A session.

Full details coming soon

Challenge manual — The final, official version of the ROADS on Mars Challenge manual will be available by the end of this week. We do have a draft version available for your perusal.

Registration — Registration for the ROADS challenge will also open by the end of this week.

Zoom meeting video

NESSP Director Robert Winglee provides a quick walking tour of the ROADS on Mars Challenge. Assistance provided by:

  • Kay Ratcliff — Field scientist
  • John Correy — Roboticist
  • Tedrick Mealy — Drone pilot
  • Christina Jarvis — Hub liaison
  • Mary Denmon — Q&A moderator
  • Chris Wallish — Camera crew

Questions from the Zoom meeting

What does someone need to do if they want to host the Challenge?

Contact Christina at cjarv@uw.edu. She’ll provide you with a document outlining a hub’s responsibilities, and then you’ll discuss with her all of the details about going forward.

How do we buy the 3D map online?

Also contact Christina! She’ll give you all the info you need to order from our partner, Seattle Design and Print. Christina’s email is: cjarv@uw.edu.

NESSP will provide maps to all hubs, so confirmed hubs don’t need to worry about ordering their own.

NESSP will also provide materials and information on how to create the 3D aspects of the map, including the crater.

What are the Challenge dates?

It depends on each regional hub. The Washington regional hub challenge will be Sunday, April 5, 2020, at the University of Washington in Seattle.

When will registration open?

By the end of this week.

Is NESSP using Google Drive for Challenge documents?

Yes, hubs will have access to a Google Drive with all documents. There is also a Google Drive for educators. To request access, email Christina: cjarv@uw.edu.

Is the manual online?

Yes! A draft manual is available now. The final, official Challenge manual will be online by the end of this week.

Four days ’til Mars

Are you ready for what comes after the giant leap? NASA’s Northwest Earth and Space Sciences Pipeline invites you to join us on September 23 for the launch of the ROADS on Mars Student Challenge!

When

Monday, September 23
1 p.m. Pacific Time

Where

Online — The launch will be via Zoom meeting. Details below.

About ROADS

NESSP’s previous project, the Apollo Next Giant Leap Student Challenge, gave students the opportunity to recreate Apollo 11’s moon landing using drones and robots. In total, more than 3,000 students participated in the challenge, with the top teams from 15 hubs across the U.S. receiving trips either to Johnson Space Center or Goddard Space Flight Center. The challenge also engaged educators in professional development, with over 300 educators receiving training through the program.

The ROADS on Mars challenge aims to provide similar hands-on experiences for students and educators, this time following in the steps of NASA’s Mars 2020 rover. Student teams will, again, pilot a drone to land on the surface — in the Jezero crater on Mars, just as the rover will — and will then use a LEGO Mindstorms robot to navigate the surface and complete science objectives. ROADS stands for “rover observation and drone survey,” which are key components of the Mars challenge.

But ROADS on Mars also introduces several mini-challenges that will incorporate biological and geological concepts. Mars 2020 will be searching Mars for signs of past life, and student teams will likewise explore their local environments to identify biosignatures. Teams will also investigate both how craters are formed and the effects of erosion on a landscape.

The challenge will culminate in final events across the U.S. in the spring. Top teams will win trips to Kennedy Space Center to watch the launch of Mars 2020 in the summer!

Joining us for the ROADS launch

The NESSP staff will convene a meeting via Zoom, an online video conferencing service. Staff will present an overview of the challenge as well as brief demonstrations. There will be Q&A at the end. Budget approximately one hour to attend this virtual launch, especially if you’d like to be sure your questions are answered. A video recording of the Zoom meeting will be available later in the week.

You can join the meeting either via the Zoom service or by simply calling in on the phone.

Joining online

https://washington.zoom.us/j/216199324

Joining via phone

+1-669-900-6833,,216199324# US (San Jose)
+1-646-876-9923,,216199324# US (New York)

ROADS details and registration

The full challenge manual will be available on our website the day of the launch. Registration for the challenge will also open the day of the launch.

Questions

If you have questions about the launch, please contact Christina Jarvis at cjarv@uw.edu .

Resources for educators

Demo videos for some aspects of the challenge are available on our YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL1p2GTGjWAoiE_sAE7LeZQrtfl0KzdWml

More resources for educators will be available via Google Drive after the launch. To be added to our distribution list, please contact Christina Jarvis at cjarv@uw.edu.

Ground control to UW campus — Seeking campus-savvy volunteers for lunar mission

Have you, too, heard the call of space and wondered how you can respond? NASA’s Northwest Earth and Space Sciences Pipeline (NESSP), headed by Washington NASA Space Grant and based out of Johnson Hall, invites you to join us on our next mission — to the moon.

Black and white image showing 5 pairs of feet standing on a map of the lunar surface.

On Friday, July 19, 2019, teams of middle- and high-school students from around Washington state will convene on the UW campus in Seattle for NESSP’s Apollo Next Giant Leap Student (ANGLeS) Challenge. The ANGLeS Challenge is a national challenge celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission by giving students the chance to recreate the moon landing using drones and robots, focusing on making it accessible for underrepresented and underserved communities. The July 19 event at the UW is the final event for teams in Washington state, who have worked throughout the spring on honing their skills in flying drones to deliver their lunar module to the moon, programming their robot to traverse the lunar landscape, and working together as a team to overcome mission challenges. The team who achieves the highest score at the UW event will win a trip to NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, where they’ll join other top teams from across the country and participate in a showcase of the Challenge.

How can you help? NESSP is looking for volunteers from the UW community to assist us as mission support staff. Enthusiasm for space is helpful, as is an enjoyment of working with young STEM explorers — but really, the most important qualification you can bring is simply your knowledge of the UW campus. Teams will be arriving from all across Washington state, and with ANGLeS Challenge events happening at several campus locations all day long we could use your help in keeping everything running smoothly and teams pointed in the right direction as they move between buildings.

We have volunteer shifts in two hours and four hours. If you’d like to sign up, please complete this Google Form (sign-in is required). If you have questions, please contact our volunteer coordinator: Mary Denmon — maryd1@uw.edu. All volunteers will receive a small “thank you” gift commemorating the event.

Deadline to sign up

Sign-up will close at 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday, July 17.

It takes a team to send a mission to the moon. We hope you’ll join our team as we support these students in taking their next giant leap.

ANGLeS Challenge event details

Friday, July 19

  • 8:30 a.m. — Opening ceremony
  • 9:15 a.m. – 5 p.m. — Teams run challenge
  • 6 p.m. — Closing ceremony

Locations

It’s time to post your team’s mission patch!

There are two important deadlines coming in the next week for the ANGLeS Challenge.

April 15 — Deadline for organizations to register. All teams must be associated with an organization, so it’s crucial that the organization registers by the end of the day on Monday, April 15. There’s no penalty for registering and then not participating in the Challenge! We encourage all organizations who think they may be interested to register now and make your decision later so that you don’t miss the registration window.

April 19 — Every NASA mission has a mission patch that illustrates the goal and spirit of the project, where the project originates from, and which institutions are participating. Each team is encouraged to create and submit a Mission Patch. We encourage teams to get creative and design a mission patch that represents themselves, their community, and their mission in the Apollo Next Giant Leap Student Challenge.

Please post your Mission Patches to the social media with the hashtags #ApolloNextGiantLeap and #Apollo50, then submit the link to us using the form linked below. Note, you will need your team number (e.g. WA999A) to submit the form, so please have that ready. You can find that number in your registration confirmation email.

https://forms.gle/B7z1i38KWr7CiiCK9

For inspiration, here are some examples of NASA mission patches from over the years. NASA’s description of the Apollo 11 patch states:

The American eagle, symbolic of the United States, was about to land on the Moon. In its talons, an olive branch indicated the crew “came in peace for all mankind.” The Earth, the place from which the crew came and would return safely in order to fulfill President John F. Kennedy’s challenge to the nation, rested on a field of black, representing the vast unknown of space

ANGLeS Challenge registration extended to April 15!

Have you been thinking about registering for the ANGLeS Challenge, but been worried you won’t have time?

We’re pleased to give you a little more time — the ANGLeS Challenge registration deadline for organizations is now April 15! Read all the details on our registration page to be sure your organization and team(s) have been properly registered. Registration is necessary in order to receive the NASA certificate and, most importantly, to have a chance at one of the grand prize trips to a NASA center!

(There are no penalties for registering now and choosing later to not run the Challenge. If you’re interested, it’s better to register now to be sure your organization/team is signed up, then decide later if you’ll run the Challenge or not.)

Once you’ve registered, check out the resources and supplies pages to make sure you have everything your team needs for the Challenge. And don’t forget the timeline page to make sure all the important deadlines are on your calendar.

See you on the launch pad!