Elementary Students in Hawaii Remotely Operate NASA Rovers for World Leaders
by Ruth Dasso Marlaire, Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif. 11.15.11
Caption. While in Hawaii representatives of the NASA Exploration Uplink visited numerous schools and showed students various NASA lunar science activities, including remotely driving the Mars rover.
Image credit: Hawaii’s PISCES program
During the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders Conference held Nov. 7-13, 2011, NASA collaborated with the University of Hawai’i Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems (PISCES) to share the excitement of exploration and robotics technology with elementary school children and even some APEC delegates.
At the conference, PISCES set up a booth for APEC delegates to view real-time educational demonstrations of NASA rovers at a Lunar/Mars analog site on Hawaii's Big Island. The rovers, developed by the NASA Lunar Science Institute’s Exploration Uplink Project at NASA Ames Research Center Moffett Field, Calif., were driven remotely by children in Hawaiian schools.
“The actual activity was about giving young students the opportunity to drive and learn the difficulties and challenges of remote exploration, including having fun,” said Greg Schmidt, deputy director of the NASA Lunar Science Institute at NASA Ames. “It was an added benefit when the APEC delegates drove the rover at the end of each school day.”
After watching the rovers traverse the moon- and Mars-like terrain, delegates had a better understanding of the challenges NASA faces during its remote operations on other worlds, and the excitement that this interaction brings to students. The rover demonstrations also revealed the opportunities for discovery and development of other worlds enabled by NASA information technology and robotic technology.
In addition, NASA helped showcase the Mauna Kea Observatories, some of the most important land-based astronomy sites in the world.
While in Hawaii representatives of the NASA Exploration Uplink visited numerous schools and showed students various NASA lunar science activities, including geology and space science. Class discussions included answering questions about networking, science information data collecting and communications during exploration. Students took a keen interest in the various challenges NASA has to overcome during their remote operations on other worlds.