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RPL Podcast to Welcome Rover Challenge Panel to Next Episode

The Mars Society is pleased to announce that Kevin Sloan, Director of the Mars Society’s University Rover Challenge (URC), and several student team participants will be joining Red Planet Live host Ashton Zeth on Tuesday, August 15th (5:00 pm PT) to talk about the recent rover competition held in Utah, robotics, and STEM education. Launched in 2006, URC is the world’s premier robotics competition consistently drawing talented and promising university students from around the world. Held annually in the desert of… READ MORE >

Scientist Wolfgang Fink to Outline Mars Cave & Lava Tube Exploration & Comms during Mars Society Convention

With growing interest among the global scientific community in investigating caves and lava tubes on the Red Planet, the Mars Society has invited Dr. Wolfgang Fink, a senior researcher from the University of Arizona and CalTech, to give a plenary talk about this field of exploration during the 26th Annual International Mars Society Convention October 5-8, 2023 at Arizona State University (Tempe). The title of Dr. Fink’s plenary address during the convention will be: “To boldly go where no robot… READ MORE >

2023 Mars Society Convention to Welcome Honeybee Robotics VP Kris Zacny

The Mars Society is pleased to announce that Dr. Kris Zacny, Vice President and Director of Exploration Technology at Honeybee Robotics, will address the 26th Annual International Mars Society Convention (October 5-8 at Arizona State University) about robotic space exploration and mining. Honeybee Robotics is a prominent R&D engineering company that creates advanced robotic systems for the most demanding environments and applications, both on Earth and in space. Industries served include spacecraft, planetary exploration, defense robotics, medical devices, mining, oil and gas,… READ MORE >

[Updated] Registration for 2023 Mission to Mars Student Competition Extended

The Mars Society is launching its second annual International Mission to Mars Engineering Design Competition this summer for high school students from around the world. Students are encouraged to register online for this unique exploratory design challenge. Update: Please note that the deadline for registering for the 2023 Mission to Mars educational program has been extended until Friday, July 7th (5:00 pm MT), at which time student teams will be formed. Update: Both this year and last year’s Lectures are… READ MORE >

Team Mountaineers Crowned URC2023 Champion!

After 3 days of incredible competition, the 2023 University Rover Challenge (URC2023) crowned a new champion, Team Mountaineers from West Virginia University in the U.S.! This was the first URC podium finish for Team Mountaineers, and the second consecutive victory by a team from the United States. Also for the second consecutive year Monash Nova Rover (Monash University, Australia) finished in second place. The BYU Mars Rover team from Brigham Young University (USA) finished in third place. Team Mountaineers (West… READ MORE >

37 Teams Advance to 2023 University Rover Challenge Finals!

After the most competitive System Acceptance Review in University Rover Challenge (URC) history, a record 37 teams from 10 countries will compete at the URC2023 Finals, scheduled to be held June 1-3, 2023 at the Mars Society’s Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) in southern Utah! 104 teams (also a record) began the year competing for a coveted invitation to the URC Finals. Teams submitted both written reports as well as video demonstrations of their rovers, which were scored by URC’s… READ MORE >

Register Today for Red Planet Live Podcast

The Mars Society is pleased to announce that Dr. Sarah Milkovich of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory will be joining our one-hour Red Planet Live (RPL) video podcast with our new host Ashton Zeth on Tuesday, January 17, 2023 (5pm PST) to discuss current Mars robotic exploration as well as several Earth science projects she’s involved in for NASA. As a planetary geologist and systems engineer at JPL, Dr. Milkovich works on the Mars Perseverance Rover and with the Applied Earth Science Disasters program. She specializes in the science operations of robotic spacecraft,… READ MORE >

JPL’s Sarah Milkovich to Discuss Mars Exploration on Red Planet Live Podcast

The Mars Society is pleased to announce that Dr. Sarah Milkovich of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory will be joining our one-hour Red Planet Live (RPL) video podcast (hosted by Ashton Zeth) on Tuesday, January 17, 2023 (5pm PST) to discuss current Mars exploration as well as several Earth science projects she’s involved in for NASA. As a planetary geologist and systems engineer at JPL, Dr. Milkovich currently works on the Mars Perseverance Rover and with the Applied Earth Science Disasters… READ MORE >

JPL’s Chief Rover Driver Vandi Verma to Address 2022 Mars Society Convention

The Mars Society is pleased to welcome back to its International Mars Society Convention, scheduled for October 20-23, 2022 at Arizona State University, Dr. Vandi Verma, JPL Chief Engineer for Robotic Operations for NASA’s Perseverance and Curiosity rover missions currently operating on the surface of Mars. Dr. Verma will give a virtual address from JPL titled “Mars Rover Operations and the Role of Autonomy and Humans in Sample Return.” She joined JPL’s Mobility and Robotics Systems Section 14 years ago,… READ MORE >

2022 Mars Society Convention to Receive Update about Mars Rovers from ASU’s Jim Bell

Ten missions have now been successfully landed on the planet Mars since 1976, including six rovers that have traversed across a total of more than 50 kms of terrain. Arizona State University’s Dr. Jim Bell has been the lead or deputy scientist in charge of the science cameras on NASA’s Spirit, Opportunity, Curiosity, and Perseverance rovers, providing him with an amazing front row seat for their photographic and geological adventures. The Mars Society will be welcoming Dr. Bell as a… READ MORE >

U of Michigan Wins URC Competition!

The Mars Society is pleased to announce that the Michigan Mars Rover Team (University of Michigan) has won the 2022 University Rover Challenge, the world’s premier Mars robotics competition for college students, with 388.97 points! Way to go, Wolverines! Coming in second place was the Monash Nova Rover (Monash University, Australia) with 380.55 points, and third place was taken by the Mars Rover Design Team (Missouri University of Science & Technology) with 370.71 points. All 36 student teams did a… READ MORE >

Relativity Space Becomes a URC Sponsor

The Mars Society is pleased to announce that Relativity Space, a Los Angeles-based aerospace company, has joined the growing ranks of official sponsors of our University Rover Challenge (URC), the world’s premier Mars robotics competition for college students held annually at the Mars Desert Research Station in Utah. Relativity is at the forefront of software-defined manufacturing, using 3D printing, artificial intelligence, and autonomous robotics to revolutionize how rockets are built and flown. The company intends to develop the world’s first entirely… READ MORE >

JPL’s Vandi Verma to talk about driving rovers on Mars during next RPL podcast

We are pleased to announce that Dr. Vandi Verma, Chief Engineer of JPL Robotic Operations for NASA’s Perseverance and Curiosity rover missions, will be joining our Red Planet Live video podcast on Thursday, April 21 (6pm PT / 9pm ET) to talk about how the two robotic explorers navigate on the surface of Mars. Having joined JPL’s Mars rover team in 2008, Dr. Verma specializes in space robotics, autonomous robots and robotic operations. She has also designed, developed, and operated… READ MORE >

Sign Up for Telerobotic Mars Expedition Design Competition

The Mars Society announced recently the launching of a new international contest to design a telerobotic Mars expedition. There will be a prize of $10,000 for first place, $5,000 for second, $2,500 for third, $1,000 for fourth, and $500 for fifth. In addition, the best 20 papers submitted will be published in a new Mars Society book, “Telerobotic Mars Expeditions: Exploring the Red Planet with Platoons of Robots.” An essential requirement for any human Mars exploration mission is a system capable of… READ MORE >

Mars Society Announces Telerobotic Mars Expedition Design Competition

The Mars Society is pleased to announce the launching of a new global contest to design a telerobotic Mars expedition. There will be a prize of $10,000 for first place, $5,000 for second, $2,500 for third, $1,000 for fourth, and $500 for fifth. In addition, the best 20 papers will be published in a new Mars Society book “Telerobotic Mars Expeditions: Exploring the Red Planet with Platoons of Robots.” An essential requirement for any human Mars exploration mission is a… READ MORE >

Mars Society Convention to Host 4 Scientists Involved in NASA Perseverance Mission

Since its landing in Jezero Crater on the planet Mars in February 2021, NASA’s Perseverance rover has been racking up achievement after achievement, including driving 2.6 kilometers over rough Martian terrain, collecting and preparing rock samples for a return mission to Earth, and using the Ingenuity helicopter for aerial exploration.    To keep the global community up-to-date about Perseverance and its scientific results, the Mars Society has invited four leading NASA-JPL scientists to give virtual plenary talks about the mission,… READ MORE >

JPL’s Vandi Verma to Give Update on Rover Mission Navigation at Mars Society Convention

Dr. Vandi Verma, JPL Supervisor of Operable Robotics for Mars Perseverance and Mars Curiosity, will provide a virtual update about navigating the two rover missions on the surface of Mars during the 24th Annual International Mars Society Convention, set for October 14-17, 2021. Dr. Verma joined JPL’s Mobility and Robotics Systems Section 14 years ago, with research interest in robotic software that enables autonomy and commanding under uncertainty for coordinated manipulation, mobility, sampling and science. Since 2008, she has been driving Mars rovers… READ MORE >

Roving Mars: Advancing Machines Explore the Red Planet

By Lawrence Klaes, Guest Writer, The Mars Society If there is one highlight among many that the Twenty-First Century can be noted for when it comes to space exploration, it is as the era when the automated rover really took off – and all over – the planet Mars. At this moment, there are three functioning multi-wheeled explorers making their way across different parts of the Red Planet, their suites of instruments gleaning what they can about their new homes… READ MORE >

Robots Are No Substitute For Human Space Exploration (Blog)

By Evan Plant-Weir, Senior Writer, Red Planet Bound Blog Space exploration is not just about gathering data. By and large, the last few hundred days on Earth are not going to be remembered fondly. Few will recall the COVID-19 years with a sense of happy nostalgia. Ultimately, however, this time won’t be entirely defined by the beating we took at the hands of a pandemic. Despite the many tragedies and challenges therein, we still managed to pull off some pretty… READ MORE >

Build a Robot Base on Mars [Zubrin]

By Dr. Robert Zubrin, SpaceNews, 04.07.21 The key is developing a 10-ton lander The triumphant landing of the Perseverance rover has inspired all Americans, and indeed much of the world. President Biden should follow it up by launching the program to send humans to Mars. While robotic rovers are wonderful, they cannot resolve the fundamental scientific questions that Mars poses to humanity, which relate to the potential prevalence and diversity of life in the universe. The early Mars was very much like… READ MORE >

Mars Society Hosting Facebook Watch Party for Perseverance Landing

The Mars Society will be hosting a virtual Facebook Watch Party for the upcoming landing of NASA’s Perseverance Rover on the surface of the planet Mars. Launched on June 30, 2020, “Percy” is scheduled to set down on February 18th inside the 28-mile-wide (45 kilometers) Jezero Crater, where it will then begin its mission to explore the nearby area in search of signs of past and present life. We invite you to mark the arrival of the latest Mars rover by joining our live Facebook… READ MORE >

URC Director Kevin Sloan to Provide Update at 2020 Virtual Mars Society Convention

Kevin Sloan, long-time Director of the Mars Society’s University Rover Challenge, will give a presentation about the URC program and plans for next year’s rover design competition (this summer’s URC was postponed due to COVID-19) during the 23rd Annual International Mars Society Convention, scheduled for October 15-18. As the premier robotics competition for college students from around the world held annually at the Mars Desert Research Station in Utah, URC challenges student teams to design and build the next generation… READ MORE >

ERC 2020 shows how to persevere in a post-pandemic world, embracing curiosity & seizing opportunity

The Covid-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc across all branches of the economy worldwide; leaving some of them profoundly impacted for the foreseeable future. The space industry has not been insulated from the virus either and some Space 4.0 start-ups have declared bankruptcy. The most important events of the space year were at best rescheduled and at worst canceled indefinitely. What brings a little consolation is the fact that the companies whose employees could work from home made that shift quite… READ MORE >

JPL Mars Operable Robotics Supervisor to Address Virtual Mars Society Convention

Dr. Vandi Verma, JPL Supervisor of Operable Robotics for the Mars Perseverance and Mars Curiosity missions, will discuss navigating rovers on the Martian surface during the 23rd Annual International Mars Society Convention, scheduled for October 15-18. Dr. Verma joined JPL’s Mobility and Robotics Systems Section in 2007, with research interest in robotic software that enables autonomy and commanding under uncertainty for coordinated manipulation, mobility, sampling and science. Since 2008, she has been driving Mars rovers (MER, MSL) and operating the… READ MORE >

JPL Deputy Project Scientist to Give Update about Mars Rover Missions at Mars Society Convention

Dr. Abigail Fraeman, a planetary scientist and deputy project scientist for NASA-JPL’s Curiosity rover mission, will provide an update about the space agency’s Mars rover missions during the 23rd Annual International Mars Society Convention, scheduled for October 15-18. Her experience with NASA-JPL missions to the solar system are extensive, including having served as co-investigator for the Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars (CRISM), principal investigator for NASA Development & Advancement of Lunar Instrumentation, co-investigator for NASA Planetary Data Analysis &… READ MORE >