Student Navigators Drive Mars Rover Testbed NASA

Intense discussion, various viewpoints, chairs being scooted around, slightly raised voices, and eventual consensus: just a typical meeting of scientists in the lab; in this case a rover lab at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The difference, though, was that this group was composed of students from four countries around the world who were planning simulated scientific tasks for exploring the surface of Mars. One of the targets they chose for analysis was a rock that they nicknamed “Pebbles.” Only this rock isn’t on the red planet; it is located in the JPL Mars Yard, an outdoor test facility that approximates Mars terrain located away from the rover lab. And after the mission, the students were able to visit “Mars” and actually see the rover used to conduct the exercise and “Mars rocks”.