If all goes well, a rover designed and built by students at Missouri University of Science and Technology will be maneuvering through rocky red terrain in the summer of 2013.
But this will be happening on Earth, in Utah, not on the surface of Mars.
“The object was to find a place that resembled the Martian terrain,” says Michael Bouchard, a member of Missouri S&T’s new Mars Rover Design Team. Bouchard is a sophomore in geology from St. Louis.
Each summer, the Mars Society puts on an annual competition for college students. The mission is to build a remote control rover that can perform specific tasks — move across a rough landscape, pick up rocks, and so on. About a dozen teams go to Utah in a given year. They have a spending cap of $15,000 for the construction of each rover.
“We want to compete in 2013 after a full design-and-build year,” says Bouchard, the team’s CEO. “We are structured like an engineering firm, with a technical and administrative branch.”
Missouri S&T’s Mars Rover Design Team has about 30 members — including many student engineers. The team is open to adding any new members who have passion and a motivation for hard work, according to Bouchard. This is the latest team to officially join S&T’s Student Design and Experiential Learning Center. They are currently working on their first prototype.
Meanwhile, NASA’s latest Martian probe, Curiosity, will get to the red planet this August.