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Commanding a rover

A rover remotely controlled during a Mars rover simulation exercise in Utah

A rover from the Canadian Space Agency's rover fleet is remotely controlled during a Mars rover simulation exercise in Utah. (Credit: Canadian Space Agency)

About the initiative

Rovers, which are off-road mobile robots that can be remotely commanded, are an essential tool in space exploration. They can collect measurements of the gases or particles in the environment and scientific samples of extraterrestrial terrain such as rocks, dust and soil. Those measurements and samples help answer science questions, and the collection activity helps us learn more about the challenges rovers face.

Rovers will play a big part in our future exploration of the Moon. Through this initiative, we want youth to have opportunities to participate in lunar science activities as well as code and remotely command a rover in a simulated lunar environment. They will assume various roles within a mission operations team to plan and execute a rover mission. This includes planning safe routes for the rover, acquiring and analyzing data, collecting samples, performing science, and simulating communication delays and other challenges in operating a vehicle on the Moon or Mars from Earth.

Operating a rover on another celestial body is not always smooth sailing, though! Various issues may come up, and youth will need to work as a team to complete their mission.

This initiative will help young people develop coding and scientific abilities, and the leadership and teamwork skills required when working on a mission.

Educators, take note!

The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) is also providing funding for two initiatives on rovers and lunar science:

Mission on the Moon: An Educational Program for Canadian Youth

Laurier University in collaboration with InkSmith

Grades 6 to 9

A unique collaboration between Laurier University's Faculty of Education and Inksmith, this highly authentic and accessible learning experience will provide inquiry-based coding and robotics activities to develop future-ready learners who are actively engaged in critical, creative and self-directed learning. The six-module program will be appropriate for use in a variety of learning contexts ranging from formal classroom instruction to informal camps and community organizations. Each module will include specific curriculum connections, authentic history and context including examples of CSA people, programs and contributions as well as challenges that simulate real-world problems that must be addressed in lunar rover exploration and when programming a k8 robot.

Learn more about Mission on the Moon.

Lunar Rover Research Challenge

Let's Talk Science in collaboration with Canadensys Aerospace and Avalon Space

Grades 6 to 9

This competition-based national project will challenge students to design a lunar rover research mission. Students will communicate their ideas through a research proposal template, which will be judged by a panel of experts. Winning teams will have the opportunity to learn how to remotely operate a lunar rover and control a Canadensys rover prototype in a simulated mission. The competition will run three times: fall , spring , and fall .

To support participating teams as they develop their research proposals, Let's Talk Science education specialists have developed a collection of Mission Goals lessons and activities in collaboration with space exploration experts at Canadensys Aerospace and Avalon Space. During the Mission Goals lessons, students will learn about the Lunar Gateway and lunar surface exploration, Canada's role in space exploration, and the types of technology used for exploration on the Moon. This material will help educators and their students understand what is known and unknown about the Moon so they can formulate plausible research goals such as identifying potential water sources and other resources that could support human habitation on the Moon. The lessons are designed to take approximately 3 to 5 hours of total in-class instructional time, including preparing for the student submission. Winning teams will need to schedule additional time to complete the rover control session with Canadensys.

Learn more about the Lunar Rover Research Challenge.

Who can participate

Youth in grades 6 to 9 from schools, youth organizations, science centres and museums across Canada will be able to participate between fall and . More details to come.

How to participate

More details will be provided in .

For educators

Educators will be provided with support through webinars, tutorial videos, educator kits or other means. Curriculum alignment will also be provided.

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