Team Woodpecker carries out its rover mission

14 Jul 2017 - 14:15

SpaceLab masters students in team Woodpecker carried out their simulated Mars rover mission on Friday 14 July. The mission team comprised Barbara Ojur (Commander), Adebayo Ogunyika (Log), Ani Vermeulen (Driver), Mchasisi Gasella (Navigator) and Bas Martens (Science).

The mission was directed by Mr Ewan Reid, President and CEO of Mission Control Services, who played the role of the ground-based flight director, supported by colleagues in Canada. The mission is offered by Mission Control Academy as a part of their education programme. Mission Control Academy is a simulated rover mission that challenges participants to design and operate a planetary exploration mission, culminating in an opportunity to remotely drive a real rover prototype in a Mars-like environment. The simulation was part of the EEE5141Z Rovers in Exploration course, which was presented by Mr Ewan Reid and Dr Melissa Battler of Mission Control Services, and Dr Phil Janney of the UCT Geosciences Department.

The context of this simulation was that of a crew of human astronauts in orbit around Mars using a rover to explore potential landing sites of scientific interest. The team controlled a rover at the Canadian Space Agency's "Mars Yard" in real time over the Internet to carry out an investigation of several  topographical features in the simulated Mars mission. The students selected their scientific targets and planned a route for their rover. They also chose their own complement of sensors for the rover to achieve their scientific objectives.