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- The year is 2004, NASA has landed and deployed a fleet of rovers on the surface of Mars to continue the exploration of that planet and prepare the way for human visitors. Middle school students at Milton Elementary have been following the mission through the media and Internet as part of Mr. Johnson's Earth and space sciences class. The kids have been working in teams to track the rovers as they move across the surface of Mars on a scale model of the landing site they built from sand and rocks using pictures and video downloaded from the Internet. They also built their own version of a rover that can be driven around the model. The time is 3:36pm. Jim and a couple of his fellow students from class are sitting in the cafeteria waiting for a student council meeting to begin. Mary and several others are on the bus riding home. Kathy is in her father's car waiting to leave the parking lot. On Mars, Rover-3 has just stopped and issued an alert to ground control at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). Back at Milton Elementary chimes can be heard going off in the cafeteria, on the school bus, and in Kathy's car. The students are familiar with the drill and each brings up the Mars mission status display on their hand-held PDA device. They've been using their PDAs (those Palm devices that seem to be everywhere today) to obtain real-time position information for each of the rovers throughout the mission. The mission status display tells them that Rover-3 has stopped on the edge of a small gully and isn't quite sure what to do. The students begin considering the options amongst themselves. Should the rover just drive through the gully? If it does, what happens if it gets stuck? Maybe it should turnaround and look for away around the gully? Trough questions. Real questions. Real problems. The students know they will need to be prepared to discuss the options and conduct their own simulations using the models they built in Mr. Johnson's class tomorrow. Much the same way engineers and scientists will be working to solve the problem at NASA. It's a couple of days later, NASA has made a decision on what to do and has issued new commands for Rover-3 to execute at 9:15am Milton Elementary time. Interestingly, NASA's solution to the problem differs from the one favored by the students. 9:16am, chimes can be heard going off throughout Milton Elementary.
- Other Subject(s):
- NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS) Collection.
- Document ID: 20020080812.
MICCA 2002; 30 Mar. 2002; Baltimore, MD; United States.
- No Copyright.
View MARC record | catkey: 15967320