York University has a great track record in designing instruments, satellites and other devices for space exploration. This year, York students compeated in the fourth annual University Rover Challenge, which designs and builds the next generation of Mars rovers. The teams faced off in Utah's Mars Desert Research Station. Last year, York won the competition. PopularScience.com covered the 2010 showdown on June 7:
Regardless of financial resources, the time commitment for getting to the fourth annual University Rover Challenge (URC) is significant – York University team member Jordan Bailey says their team’s captain took a reduced course load during the spring semester in order to lead the design and construction of the rover.
“He was putting in eight-hour days regularly on the rover project – some days he would sleep in a lawn chair in the room where the rover was being built,” Bailey said. York’s team placed second in this year’s event and was the winner of the 2009 URC. “When you get here and see the rover actually working, it’s worth all the effort – even if you don’t take first place,” said Bailey.
The dry desert heat took a toll on several teams’ rovers. Both York University and Iowa State University had problems with drivers overheating, which cost them both time and points in competitions.
Bailey says the idea of the URC competition is to look at problems that real rovers will face on Mars and figure out new solutions. “The hardware we use on these rovers is not space-rated – everything is basically stuff you can buy off the shelf,” he said. “But the solutions are the same, whether you use earth-based or space-based hardware. So if we figure out an innovative solution to a problem NASA is looking at, they can potentially use that – but with million-dollar space hardware instead of $1,000 equipment.”
Final results of the 2010 University Rover Challenge:
- Oregon State University (315 points)
- York University (209 points)
- Magma Team, Poland (203 points)
The winning team wins transportation, lodging and admission for five team members to the 13th Annual International Mars Society Convention in Dayton, OH this summer, and large cash prizes.
Republished courtesy of YFile– York University’s daily e-bulletin.