Seriously? Is This How A Trip To Mars Starts?

Sporting a Nintendo t-shirt, Patrick Bazzoli sits outdoors in an office chair holding a stick while his friends laugh and snap photos. Not your usual scientific method.

As odd as it might seem to passing motorists, this was a genuine testing regimen by the S&T Mars Rover Team, a rookie crew that is making a name for itself. Communications systems team lead Josh Jetter describes it this way:

“We were testing radios and a 5ft omnidirectional antenna and “talking” to another unit strapped to the top of a team member’s car. We were able to get about 0.5km of range, but that was with a very poor antenna on the other end. Extrapolating this info to the antenna we will use, we expect from 2-5km of actual range; our competition only requires 1km.”

“The group testing the system were members of the team’s communications systems sub-team, which is responsible for the Rover’s computational, sensing, controls, and data transmission systems. The communication system will be responsible for transmitting data to and from various cameras, sensors, onboard computers, motors, and a robotic arm on the Rover.”

“Our work is in preparation for the University Rover Challenge this May. We’re close to having the Rover moving, and we’re building the the robotic arm right now. This is the first time an S&T design team has participated in this event, and we have a large dedicated team focused on doing great things!”

There’s a little problem with funding, so this little crawler won’t actually make it to the Red Planet. The Mars Desert Research Station in Hanksville, Utah will stand in for the real thing, but the good news is that Miner fans should be able to attend the event without making reservations decades in advance.