Ontario students conduct mock Mars mission 0
Canadian university students are training up for a mission to Mars.
This summer, a group of students from several Canadian schools have been split between a mission control centre in London, Ont., and the Canadian Space Agency's “Mars yard” in Saint-Hubert, Que., where they are guiding a rover over Mars-like terrain in a simulation they hope will teach them what it takes to conduct an actual long-distance Mars mission.
“It's an amazing opportunity to work in an environment that is framed like the one currently making (the Curiosity Rover mission on Mars) a success,” said Brittney Cooper, an atmospheric science and astronomy student from Toronto’s York University, who is part of the mission control team in London.
The rover being used is the CSA’s Mars Exploration Science Rover (MESR). It’s a 250-kg, six-wheeled machine with a robotic arm, a microscope, drills to sample rock, and cameras.
Tanya Harrison, a Western University Ph.D. student with experience in mission operations for NASA’s Curiosity, said she's eager to learn more about space technology.
“Canada has an excellent history with space and planetary instrumentation,” she said.
Heading up the rover team at the Mars yard is Dr. Brian Lynch, a post-doctoral fellow from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont., who hopes to apply what he's learning to a real-life mission in the future.
“I look forward to applying these skills while participating in future (simulations) as well as real missions to the moon, Mars, and beyond,” he said.
The simulation wraps up Friday.
It's the second of a six-year program led by Western’s Dr. Gordon Osinski, with future missions set to be more complicated and challenging, including plans to place the rover in the Arctic for next summer’s mock mission.