U of S students building Mars rover

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March 21, 2014 - 3:12pm
U of S Space Design Team members Jordan Kubica (L), Justin Gerein and Cody Smith hold a mock-up design of the Mars rover they are building. Trelle Burdeniuk/News Talk Radio.
U of S Space Design Team members Jordan Kubica (L), Justin Gerein and Cody Smith hold a mock-up design of the Mars rover they are building. Trelle Burdeniuk/News Talk Radio.

Some University of Saskatchewan students are working on a project that's out of this world.

The members of the U of S Space Design Team (USST) are building a Mars rover for an international competition.

"The goal of this competition is to design a multi-purpose rover that can be used in several different scenarios," said USST president Justin Gerein.

The rover will use a mechanical arm to complete different challenges including collecting and testing a sample for life, picking up and delivering equipment and driving over Mars-like terrain.

"All of this has to be accomplished remotely, so any of the controllers can not physically be there with the rover. We all have to observe it from a distance, so this is going to be accomplished through wireless communications, video feedback and sensor feedback," Gerein said.

The mechanical arm of the U of S Space Design Team's Mars rover. Trelle Burdeniuk/News Talk Radio.

The University Rover Challenge is being put on by the Mars Society at its Mars Desert Research Station in Utah.

The U of S has never entered the competition before and will face 30 teams from universities around the world.

"There are teams that have been doing this for three or four years already. Our goal for this year is simply to have something that operates without failure," Gerein said.

The rover will be about three feet by four feet and all the pieces have either been bought or manufactured by the students. They used a 3-D printer to make many of the parts for the rover's hand piece.

The students building the rover have already put thousands of hours into the project, many working 20-30 hours a week on the rover.

"It really doesn't feel like work. This is what I'd be doing in my spare time anyway," said Jordan Kubica, another USST team member.

Kubica said the rover project helps engineering students like him apply skills they're learning in class. 

"It's really good to have the opportunity to build something this complicated in real life as opposed to just theoretical design, which is what we normally do in our classes," Kubica said.

The team is currently working on assembling and testing the rover and said they are on track for May's competition.

tburdeniuk@rawlco.com

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