Mar 2013: EHMS Meets Mars Curiosity Rover

On Tuesday, Mar 12, about 40 students from Edward Harris, Jr. Middle School traveled to the West Steps of the Capitol to see NASA's Mars Curiosity Rover as part of California Aerospace Week.

EHMS students met with engineers, scientists and educators from two NASA facilities, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena and Ames Research Center (ARC) on Moffet Field near Mountain View. The students got to see full-sized models of all three generations of Mars rovers plus models of current and future missions.

The first generation of Mars rover, Sojourner, landed in 1997 as a "proof of concept" mission. Sojourner is about 65 cm by 48 cm by 30 cm tall. It had a maximum speed of 1 cm per second! Sojourner lived and continued to broadcast scientific data for about 83 Sols (1 Sol is a Martian day, approximately 24 hours 38 minutes). It traveled a total of about 100 m, but was never more than 12 m from its base station, Pathfinder.

The second generation of Mars rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, landed in 2004. They were designed for a 90 Sol mission. Spirit traveled about 4.8 miles during its 2,210 Sols (6 years, 2 months, 19 days!!!) Opportunity is still going strong after more than 21.5 miles traveled in over 3,200 Sols.

The third generation, Mars Curiosity, landed in 2012 and is still exploring. A major question Curiosity is designed to answer is could life have ever existed on Mars? On the day we were viewing Curiosity, NASA announced that the answer is Yes, all of the key ingredients are there so that Mars could have supported microbial life at some time in its history.

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What we went to see!
Left: 2nd generation, kin to Spirit and Opportunity, 2007 - now
Center (front): sibling of Sojourner, 1997
Right: twin to Curiosity, 2012 - now
photos by D. Ishikawa

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A part of our group in front of Curiosity.
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One of the fun things we did:
you lie on the ground as a NASA person drives a first generation rover over you.
Sounds weird? Well, it felt pretty weird.

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We, the teachers and administrators are extremely proud of how well our students represented
Edward Harris, Jr. Middle School. Once again,

YOU ARE AWESOME!!!
photo by NASA photographer

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