Rovers in RioLatest update July 14, 2018 Started on July 9, 2018
We are embarking on a new expedition to train the next generation of Mars explorers in the City of God, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Students will be introduced to NASA's Mars exploration program, and use real mission data to test their own hypotheses about habitable environments at Gale crater, Mars. They will simulate a space mission by performing reconnaissance of a marine ecosystem off the coast of Rio using a Trident underwater drone from OpenROV.
On the first day of Ad Astra Academy, students are introduced to the key concepts and tools used by scientists in the real world. Through hands-on activities, they participate in the scientific method to test a hypothesis by collecting and analyzing data. Students leave the classroom to search for signs of past and present life in the natural environment. It's important to allow students to explore freely, but also to guide their exploration toward testable hypotheses. For example, is sunlight a necessary ingredient for life? What other energy sources could organisms use? How is plant growth affected by access to nutrients, or how long can life survive without water? Using a research notebook, students investigate habitability (past and present) through the study of form, activity, and environment.
The next generation of Mars explorers will answer big questions about the geologic history and habitability of the Red Planet. They will interact in new ways with robotic spacecraft, including NASA's rovers and orbiters. In its second incarnation in Rio de Janeiro, the Ad Astra Academy will train these young explorers to follow their curiosity to investigate Mars and also the natural environment around them. Our students will attend the program at the Instituto Presbiteriano Álvaro Reis (INPAR), where they will learn through classroom activities and field trips. As a capstone project, the students will Skype with the Mars Rover team at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, providing their recommended plans for Curiosity's next traverse.
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