Mars Yard Maps now even easier to use!

We have been busy at the Mars Lab adding improvements to all our software and would to share a few of the new features in Mars Yard Maps (MYM) to make it even easier to navigate complex maps.

When you select a pin in 2D you now get a visual clue to which pin is selected.

2D Pin Bounce

2D Pin Bounce

Likewise in 3D mode you get a visual clue.

3D Pin Bounce

3D Pin Bounce

If you have too many pins close to each other we have a multiple pin selection dialog to help you out.

Mars Yard Maps Multi Pin Select

Mars Yard Maps Multi Pin Select

A Pun-Off With Commander Chris Hadfield

A great achievement by Merrylands High School

The Mars Lab team was invited to Merrylands High School last Thursday to witness the Year 9s presentations of Project Mars.

This Year 9 class had spent a whole term doing Project Mars. They used the Mars Lab’s robotic rover and its on-board camera and spectrometer to explore the (recreated) Martian surface and search for evidence that Mars could have supported life.

The Mars Lab team was blown away by the students’ presentations. Congratulations to everyone who presented!

Their teacher, Alice Leung wrote about the students’ experience in this blog post.

Merryland HS presenting Project Mars

Merryland HS presenting Project Mars

Mars Lab visits PLC Melbourne

Mars Lab visited PLC Melbourne to experience the mission’s from the school. All up the young ladies completed 4 separate missions!

Mars Mission 5 at PLC Melbourne

Mars Mission 5 at PLC Melbourne

It was amazing to see just how the PLC teachers used the model of the solar system to teach size and scale. The work was proudly on display.

PLC Melbourne Planet Models

PLC Melbourne Planet Models

Mars Lab has even inspired a creative writing project. I can’t wait to see how it ends!

Mars Lab inspiring creative writing

Mars Lab inspiring creative writing

Merrylands Project Mars Mission

Today Merrylands embarked on a mission to collect data for their project Mars.

Setting up the studio

Setting up the studio

Mawson was navagated expertly accross the yard by young people from Merrylands HS to conduct spectroscopy experiments on sites identified as potentially interesting.

Mawson exploring the yard

Mawson exploring the yard

Mawson traversed dangerous terrain successfully by taking a safe path over complex terrain.

Mawson preparing to explore the crater

Mawson preparing to explore the crater

Young people from Merrylands HS driving Mawson

Young people from Merrylands HS driving Mawson

The young people were interviewed during the mission to document the process!

Young people from Merrylands conducting interviews on the mission

Young people from Merrylands conducting interviews on the mission

For more excitement from the day follow @themarslab on twitter. If you are interested in running your own mission on Mars take a look at our education programs and don’t hesitate to contact us!

Mission to Mars

During the holidays a mission to Mars was completed on the mars yard. The mission was a success with many interesting findings. Young people took control of the rover, planned their mission and executed from mission control remotely.

Mission to Mars group shot

Mission to Mars group shot

Group shot cheering!

Group shot cheering!

Mars Lab has won the first prize in the AARNet Excellence Awards for 2014!

The award is for our innovative use of an AARNet connection with a new form of immersive teaching and learning in the online environment.

The award was collected on our behalf by UNSW’s Dr Houssein Hallani.

1st Place

1st Place

Virtual Mars Yard Tutorials live

We are very happy to announce that the Virtual Mars Yard now has a full tutorial on how to use Mawson. Anyone is free to try, so why not learn how to drive an exploration rover!

Virtual Mars Yard

An incredible video conference with NASA’s Jen Shechet

jen shechet

Last Friday (16 May), Mars Lab hosted an exciting video conference with Jen Shechet, Earth and planetary scientist on the Mars Curiosity Rover team.  Live from CalTech, Jen spoke with students from Casula High School, PLC Armidale, Trundle Central School and Condobolin High School who also joined us via video conference as well as students from Mary MacKillop College who were here live in the Mars Lab studio.

Jen told us all about her work at NASA and her current role as ‘keeper of the plan’, in which she helps “build the plan fragments that get sent up to the rover”, characterises the terrains that the rover has driven over and “assesses the predictive capabilities of terrain we will drive over in the future, to best protect the rover wheels from future wheel damage.”

Since the Martian day (called a sol) is 37 minutes longer than a day here on Earth, Jen explained that she sometimes has to live on ‘Mars time’; which she did for the first three months after Curiosity rover first landed on Mars.  Coming in to work 37 minutes later each day really throws off your normal ‘Earth’ schedule.

When the Big Bang Theory television show was mentioned, Jen admitted that CalTech is very much like that show … “just as nerdy”.  When asked who she is most like on the show, Jen compared herself to Bernadette – but hopefully a lot less annoying!

It was an absolute pleasure speaking to Jen.  We learned heaps, had a few laughs and found out how fun it is to be a planetary scientist … so inspiring.

Keep checking our website for the next special video conference event.

jen shechet1

Life from electrical energy? Maybe!

Researchers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, and the Icy Worlds team at NASA’s Astrobiology Institute think that electrical energy naturally produced at the sea floor might have given rise to life here on Earth.

According to this “water world” theory, life may have begun inside warm, gentle springs on the sea floor, at a time long ago.

The team’s origins of life theory applies not just to Earth but also to other wet, rocky worlds. So, by testing this hypothesis, NASA researchers may be able to explain how life might have arisen on these other places in our solar system or beyond, and also get an idea of how to look for it.

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