Students Band Together to Compete in NASA Contest (AP)

by STEMconnector

Students Band Together to Compete in NASA Contest (AP)

Students at South Dakota School of Mines & Technology want to send The ‘Moonrockers’ rover to Mars.

With their imaginations fixed on the stars, students at South Dakota School of Mines & Technology are building a robot that may someday rove across the sands of Mars for NASA.

The “Moonrockers” rover is the product of two years of labor by an interdisciplinary team of more than 20 engineering students, all cooperating in hopes of winning NASA’s eighth annual Robotic Mining Competition. Last year, the School of Mines team placed second among about 50 entries for its creation of a bot capable of piloting itself. Now, team members Dakotah Rusley, 21, and Chas Hartman, 24, are setting their sights on improving their past success.

“That’s what we’re looking forward to this year, is spring-boarding off that,” said Rusley, a computer engineering student at Mines. “If we did it last year, how can we make it better?”

Space travelers of the future will need a cheap and abundant source of water, oxygen and fuel to power their ships through the solar system, the Rapid City Journal ( reported. Based on findings by the Curiosity rover, scientists have come to believe that “icy regolith” found in the ancient clay of Mars is a plentiful source for all three.

“The water can be used for human consumption, hygiene, (to) make rocket propellant for the journey home, grow plants, provide radiation shielding and for use in various manufacturing processes,” reads a description of the competition on NASA’s website.

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