: Contact - Domain Hotel, Sunnyvale
: Death Valley Marsfest 2016 (Celestial Centennial)
: Mark West Elementary School Science Fair, Santa Rosa
: Maker Faire
Blogging the Mars Society / NASA Ames Science Rover Project
Posted by Boris Debic at 9:41 AM
Posted by Boris Debic at 12:30 PM
The NorCal Mars Society chapter attended the 2012 Maker Faire in San Mateo and set up an exhibit booth for the rover project. The faire was bustling with activity this year and there were lots of people stopping by our booth to discuss our rovers and our chapter.
Our Phoenix rover, despite some technical difficulties due to WiFi interference, was operational and we gave visitors to our booth the opportunity to drive it around the nearby walkway. We had a nearly constant line of kids waiting for their chance to drive the rover.
Posted by Scott at 10:55 AM
Members of the NorCal Chapter attended for the second time in a row the Maker Faire event in San Mateo, California. Its an event which always brings together a large number of technology and tinkering enthusiasts and seasoned professionals who share a passion for making things. We had a presence together with our NASA Ames colleagues. The rover display attracted many visitors, and initiated a number of conversations revolving around rover hardware and software and the exploration of Mars, future missions on it, and the prospects of one day landing a human mission and building a settlement. For now, we fill our time in exploring different scenarios, mission configurations and software revision on Earth based Mars analogs.
Our chapter member Jon Cox gives a brief overview of the chapter and our current work in the video shot at the Maker Faire.
Posted by Boris Debic at 9:59 PM
NorCal Mars Society members Jon Cox and Scott Davis presented the Sandstorm rover at Meyerholz Elementary School in San Jose on October 5th, 2011. Scott gave a presentation to an audience of third and fifth-grade students about the planet Mars and how astronauts may someday use robot rovers to assist them in exploring it. The students had been studying the solar system and were very excited about Mars. Sandstorm then drove out and greeted the students. The rover's camera view was projected on the screen for the students to see. Miss Peng's third-grade class was able to stay after the presentation and each student got a chance to operate the rover. Special thanks to Sylvia Leong for inviting us and helping organize the presentation.
Posted by Scott at 12:40 PM
Members of the NorCal MS Chapter (Jon Cox, Scott Davis, Boris Debic) took part in the Science Alliance Showcase event at the Warm Springs elementary School in Freemont. It was a full day event with several in-class presentations and rover demonstrations finishing off with a "Why go to Mars?" (And why study engineering and science) lecture for students at the end of the day. After getting the rovers back with fresh data from the MDRS deployment in the Utah desert it was a fitting followup in our outreach activites program. Here's in Clyde Mann's own words:
"Our students had the opportunity to hear about and see the Norcal Mars Rover Project present throughout the day. The presentation was to over 800 students, cluminating in a big school assembly at the end of the day. I was fortunate to see parts of the final presentation. It was hot and sweaty in our multi-purpose room, yet Boris Debic singlehandedly kept the students illuminated and attentive by his fantastic sense of humor, and the idea that we are explorers and will always look for new frontiers. Celebrities, politicians (not statesmen), fortune 500 CEO’s, and Venture Capitalists don’t move me. What you brought to the students was truly inspiring. All I can say is that the next day, students with their eyes bulging out in excitement, could not stop talking about the presentation and loved the rovers."
Posted by Boris Debic at 2:06 PM
I've returned from a week-long trip to Zzyzx, CA with other members of the rover team and participants in the NASA Spaceward Bound project. Our group included a number of educators, scientists, and science students who worked on several different science projects during the week, such as science balloons, lava tube caving, and underwater microscopy. Our rover team provided one of the science projects with the participants operating the rovers out in different field environments each day. We operated on and around old lava flows, inside a lava tube, on a dry lake salt flat, and at night using a light attached to the rover's camera turret.
One of the highlights from the trip having the 5th grade students from Rob Palassou's Science Club from San Francisco operate one of the rovers at Zzyzx. They were broken up into teams of two students, where one team would hide an orange road cone within a bounded area, and another team would have ten minutes to search for it using the rover. The rover operating team were located in a nearby building and could only use the rover's camera to find the cone. The teams were cycled through so all the kids had a chance to hide and also search for the cone. Of the seven teams, two were successful at finding the cone target. All of the kids seemed to really enjoy the experience.
One the last day of the field operations, we set up a boom WIFI antenna on a hill at the Zzyzx science station and drove one of the rovers out on the dry lake salt flats to see how far it could get before the communication became too weak. The rover made it about half a mile away from base before it lost communication and we had to trudge out onto the muddy salt flats to retrieve it.
NASA Spaceward Bound Trip Info
Posted by Scott at 7:28 AM
The collaboration is evident at NASA/Ames Research Center in Mountain View. Ames is carrying out leading-edge research in high-performance computing, networking, advanced number-crunching software, visual displays, 3-D graphics and artificial intelligence. Work is also under way on tele-operations - linking the human touch to the work of a robot far off Earth - as well as telepresence that allows a person to feel as if he or she is actually present in a different place or time.
Projects like these have the potential to create "disruptive technologies" benefiting humankind. The efforts support NASA's aeronautical and space agenda, but they also have the potential to be spun off into commercial technologies.-- Gene Kranz