September 2020 Two-Day Teacher Workshop 🗓

NESSP’s next educator professional development will take place virtually (via Zoom) — but will still be hands-on! The two-day educator workshop is aligned with our next ROADS challenge (to be announced October 2020). Supplies will be mailed to participants who register by Friday, September 11.

The workshop is tentatively scheduled to run 4–8 p.m. on Friday, September 25, and 8:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. Saturday, September 26 (all times are Pacific Time). Instructional sessions will be followed by time to step away from Zoom and engage hands-on with the topics and supplies.

This workshop is intended for teachers working in schools and will cover the ROADS on Asteroids companion course. In October we will offer a workshop for coaches and other mentors who work with students interested in the ROADS on Asteroids challenge.



Topics will be covered over the course of both workshop days. The material and projects are for educators working with middle and high school -aged students.

  • Scientific and engineering documentation — the Mission Development Log (MDL)
  • Search for signs of life — methane and CO2 detection
  • Search for signs of life — build your own microscope (Foldscope)
  • Remote sensing and aeronautics — drone basics
  • Engineering design — making your robot and lander
  • Programming for middle and high school students — LEGO Mindstorms and Makeblock mBot Rangers
  • Landscape morphology — geologic processes in a sandbox


Supplies are available, at no cost, to participants who register by Friday, September 11. There’s a section of the registration form (below) where you can indicate what supplies you’ll need.

Robots — If you need a robot for the workshop, this year we are providing Makeblock mBot Ranger robots. We ask you to please not request a robot if we’ve previously supplied you with a LEGO Mindstorms robot, unless you need to support a class.

Who can register

The September 2020 workshop is open only to educators from across the United States. This workshop is intended for teachers working in schools and will cover the ROADS on Asteroids companion course.

Clock hours

Educators may be eligible for clock hours from Idaho, Oregon, Montana, or Washington.

Register for September 2020 workshop

Registration for the September 2020 workshop is now closed.

ROADS on Mars — Final submissions 🗓

The ROADS on Mars final submission period is now open. Submission of final challenge materials will be virtual through the submission form below for all hubs.

Each team must submit three pieces of documentation for their final submission (more information below). You can submit all three at one time using the form below, or you can submit just one or two pieces now and return later to submit the rest.

The submission deadline is Monday, September 28, 2020, for all hubs.

Your submission must include — Challenge components

Each team must submit the following pieces of documentation for their final submission:

  1. Mission Development Log (MDL)
  2. Mission video
  3. Scoresheet

Your submission should also include — Media release forms

We should also receive media release forms for each student on the team. These forms must be signed by the student’s parent/guardian, not by the team’s teacher / coach / mentor.

If any adults appear in photos or videos included in the team’s submission, we should have a signed media release for them as well.

If you’d like to discuss this request for media release forms, please email us:

Download the forms here as PDFs:

Mission Development Log (MDL)

Hopefully you’re already familiar with the Mission Development Log requirement! It’s described in section 4.1.1 of the challenge manual.

For guidance as you prepare the final version of your MDL, our Mission Development Log rubric is available for download:

Mission video

The mission video requirement takes the place of what would normally be our in-person hub challenge. That means the mission video is not detailed in the ROADS on Mars manual, so please read the following information carefully!

What should the video show?

Your video should show your team’s full attempt at the final challenge. That’s it! No mini-challenge footage required.

When teams would, in normal times, gather at their hub for the final challenge event, they would have 10 minutes to complete all of the mission objectives. These MOs are listed in section 5.4 of the challenge manual. Your mission video should show your team attempting all of these mission objectives.

To be live or not

We know that some teams are already planning to run their final challenge as a live event for their friends and families on Facebook Live or Instagram Live. This is cool, but not required! If you do a live virtual event, you can submit your video to NESSP either as a link to the resulting social media post, or you can download your video from Facebook/Instagram and submit the file using the submission form below.

But it’s also absolutely okay to do your final challenge run without a virtual audience.

IF your team can gather together (safely!!)

One way to prepare your video is to set up your challenge course to approximate, as closely as you can, what the course would look like at a hub event, and then film your team running the challenge from beginning to end in one 10-minute attempt. You can definitely run as many attempts as you want to and then submit the best one! You may also use video editing software to splice together your best attempts at individual components of the challenge — but each mission objective should be shown on video as one single, uninterrupted shot.

But if gathering together isn’t possible

We know, however, that it’s pretty unlikely that teams will be able to gather together. In that case, teams should assign various MOs to individual members — the same way teams worked together, while still socially distancing, for our ROADS Freestyle challenge.

Each mission objective should be shown on video as one single, unedited shot. The MOs should then be edited together to create one video representing the team’s attempt at the final challenge from beginning to end.

But we don’t have the map or other supplies!

Most teams aren’t going to have the full complement of pieces (map, drone, &c.) that the final challenge run, as laid out in the manual, calls for — and we aren’t going to penalize a team for missing something! Please do attempt all of the mission objectives, but this is where your team can show off its creativity and ingenuity by improvising to meet the objectives.

In particular, note that there are detailed instructions on all features of the Mars mat in section 5.2 of the challenge manual so that teams can draw their own best representation of the map.

Submitting your video

You can either submit a link to your video (Facebook/Instagram video, YouTube video, a Google Drive folder, a Dropbox, &c.) or you can upload a file using the submission form below.


When your team does its final challenge run, you must have your teacher / coach / mentor act as a judge to score your attempt at the challenge. The completed scoresheet must be uploaded as one of your pieces of documentation. The scoresheet is available as a downloadable Excel file here. Please email us ASAP if you have problems with the file!

Submission form

You will need your team name and team number to make your submission, but this time you don’t need to log into anything. If you can’t remember your team number, email us and we’ll look it up:

The submission form is pretty short — one page to set up your submissions, one page to confirm what you’re submitting and enter your contact info, and one page to submit everything to the server. You WILL get an on-screen confirmation message (it shows up as a green box), so don’t close your browser tab until you see that! You’ll also get a confirmation email from the system, so if you don’t receive that you should email us to double-check.

ROADS on Mars submission form

Step 1 of 2
To complete the ROADS on Mars Student Challenge, your team must submit three pieces of documentation. We should also have media release forms for each student on the team (signed by their parent/guardian -- NOT the team's teacher/coach/mentor). You can submit all of them right now, or you can submit them each separately by returning to this form.

SME talk: NASA Artemis Program Overview [ROADS News for teams (July 23, 2020)] 🗓

G’day, challenge teams!

This is a last-minute notification, but we’re excited to invite you to join us for this talk! Tomorrow — Friday, July 24 — we’ll be hearing from Patrick Troutman, lead for human exploration strategic assessments at the NASA Langley Research Center, who will be presenting an Artemis Program overview. The talk will be streamed on Facebook Live, and we hope you’ll join us!

Science Matter Expert (SME) Presentation: NASA Artemis Program Overview


About Patrick Troutman

A man wearing a white shirt with a black tie and sport coat stands in front of a window. The man is white and has brown hair.Patrick A. Troutman graduated in 1984 from Virginia Tech with a BS in aerospace and oceanographic engineering along with a minor in computer science. In the past 35 years he has worked for NASA designing and assessing the International Space Station, leading systems analysis related to future space scenarios including managing the NASA Revolutionary Aerospace Systems Concepts (RASC) program, helping to define the Vision for Space Exploration, leading the integration for the Constellation Program lunar surface architecture, and leading human space exploration mission design for the NASA Human Spaceflight Architecture Team and the Evolvable Mars Campaign. Patrick currently serves as the lead for human exploration strategic assessments at the NASA Langley Research Center where his current efforts include developing what the next set of activities for humans should be beyond the international space station including crewed missions to the Moon, Mars, and beyond.

Let’s finish the mission! — ROADS on Mars reboot information

G’day, ROADS on mars teams!

This is the email/blog post you’ve been waiting for — we’re officially announcing the ROADS on Mars Student Challenge reboot.

This is not a restart!  We’re not asking teams to go back to the beginning and start all over again.  The challenge will pick up where we left off back in March.  You won’t lose any of the work that you’ve already done.

How will we finish the final stages of the challenge?  Virtually, by early September around when the school year usually starts.

Here are a few details:


Mini-challenge awards for most hubs have been announced.  Some hubs were still accepting mission patch submissions when the ROADS on Mars challenge went on hiatus. NESSP is working with those hubs to finish accepting submissions and announce winners.

Mission Development Log (MDL)

Each team’s MDL was originally due during the hub’s challenge event, to be reviewed during the on-deck time.  For the reboot, all MDLs will be submitted online — similar to how the mini-challenge submissions were submitted.  The submission portal for MDLs will open in August.

Running the final challenge

There will be no in-person events for any hub.  Teams will record their challenge run and submit it online for scoring.  Videos must be of one single run of the challenge — straight through, no cuts or edits.  This will result in a video that is long and difficult to upload, so teams should use social media (for example, Facebook Live) to broadcast and record their challenge run.  Teams will then submit the URL to that video for the NESSP team and hubs to review.

Teams will also submit a score sheet of their official challenge run.  NESSP will provide an official score sheet which should be used by an educator or mentor who is present during the team’s run to assess and score the team’s mission performance.  Teams will then upload that score sheet when they submit their video URL to NESSP.  We’ll use that completed score sheet to compare notes when we review the video for official scoring.

The score sheet will be available on the NESSP website later this summer, along with tips on getting good video when your team runs the challenge.

The score sheet and video will be due in September according to the submission period set by each hub — some may accept submissions in August, some in September.  We’ll announce exact dates later this summer.

More info to come!

Details on deadlines, recording your video, and submitting your materials will be available over the summer.  Keep an eye on your inbox and on the NESSP blog for information as it becomes available!

ROADS on Mars / ROADS Freestyle — News for teams (June 11, 2020)

G’day, Mars enthusiasts!

From NASA — Mars2020 Launch

Even though COVID-19 restrictions are keeping Kennedy Space Center off-limits for most of us, the Mars2020 rover launch is scheduled to go forward as planned.  Currently, the rover is tentatively scheduled to launch on Monday, July 20, around 9 a.m. Eastern Time (6 a.m. Pacific Time).  As always, this depends on the weather in Florida!  But NASA will be livestreaming the launch via their usual channels.  You can get more info here:

From NESSP — “Meet an Expert” series

We have no sessions of “Meet an Expert” coming up, but that makes this a great time to catch up on ones you missed!

From NESSP — Mars challenge updates

ROADS on Mars Student Challenge

The ROADS on Mars Student Challenge remains on hold — but not forever!  Stay tuned for an announcement later this month on how we’re rebooting the ROADS on Mars challenge so that teams can finish their missions.

ROADS Freestyle Challenge

The ROADS Freestyle Challenge scoring process is nearly complete and we should be announcing winners by mid-June.  All teams will receive an email and prize-winning teams will be announced on our website.

Where’s Mars?

Can we see Mars in the sky yet?  It’s still an early-dawn object, but if you happen to be up you’ll find it if you look east-southeast to south.  Mars is currently in the constellation Aquarius and is growing brighter and larger every week.

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

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!


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


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


AMA Bros. — a Curiosity team from Hercules High School UAVs in Hercules, CA. See their prize-winning YouTube post here:


  • 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:



Millburn — a Curiosity team from Millburn High School in Millburn, NJ. See their prize-winning YouTube post here:


Cuh-yotes — a Curiosity team from Roswell High School MESA in Roswell, NM. See their prize-winning YouTube post here:



South Belton Middle School — an Opportunity team from South Belton Middle School in Belton, TX. See their prize-winning Facebook post here:


WSSB Explorers — a Sojourner team from Washington State School for the Blind in Vancouver, WA. See their prize-winning Facebook post here:


BearsInSpace — a Curiosity team from Chittenango, NY. See their prize-winning Twitter post here:

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.”


“Meet an Expert” — Series archives

If you’ve missed any of our previous chats, you can access them anytime on our YouTube channel:

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:  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:

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!


The Flaming Llamacorns — an Opportunity team from Thatcher Elementary School in Thatcher, AZ. See their prize-winning YouTube post here:


Flight Team Five — an Opportunity team from Los Angeles Academy Middle School in Los Angeles, CA. See their prize-winning Instagram post here:


Kerbal Krew — a Curiosity team from Spearfish Robotics Club in Spearfish, SD. See their prize-winning YouTube post here:




New Jersey

Millburn — a Curiosity team from Millburn High School in Millburn, NJ. See their prize-winning YouTube post here:

New Mexico

R4Robotics — a Curiosity team from R4Creating in Rio Rancho, NM. See their prize-winning Facebook post here:


Gobble Obble — an Opportunity team from Homeschool Group in Noble, OK. See their prize-winning Facebook post here:


Elbot 3000 — a Curiosity team from Stayton High School in Stayton, OR, OR. See their prize-winning Instagram post here:


Sunray Bobcats Ares X-plorer — an Opportunity team from Sunray Middle School in Sunray, TX. See their prize-winning Facebook post here:


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


DAB’EM — an Opportunity team from Roosevelt Elementary in Port Angeles, WA. See their prize-winning Facebook post here:


Rivergold Flight Crew — a Spirit team from Rivergold Elementary School in Coarsegold, CA. See their prize-winning Facebook post here:

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.


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:

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.)


  • 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.


  • 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:

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.


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!


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:

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:

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   Please contact with questions!


The challenge manual will get you started on the ROADS on Mars, whether you’re a student team running the challenge during the 2019-2020 school year (or summer!) or you’re an educator looking to incorporate these hands-on activities into your curriculum.

Download the manual (PDF)!