Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 ROADS on Mars Student Challenge has been cancelled.
ROADS on Mars Student Challenge
June 15–19, 2020
The ROADS on Mars Student Challenge gives teams of students in grades 9–12 a chance to tackle a mission to Mars, following in the path of the next rover – Mars 2020. Just like NASA's rover, teams will face challenges including engineering and programming, analysis of biological signatures and geologic features, not to mention flying to Mars and successfully landing.
ROADS is not just a robotic competition. It's an interdisciplinary enterprise that helps develop student expertise in biology, environmental sciences, social media, engineering design, robotics, programming, drones, and aviation.
The challenge consists of three parts: Landscape Morphology, Search for (Terrestrial) Life, and Robotic Exploration.
PART I — Landscape Morphology
Study how environments are modified by the action of water which may form alluvial fans and the effect of high-velocity impacts which may have produced the cratering in the vicinity of the Jerezo crater. This component, called Landscape Morphology, is particularly relevant today where regions are being impacted by record breaking storms each year.
PART II — Search for (Terrestrial) Life
Search for signs of small, unseen life — which we are abbreviating as "the search for life." Mars 2020 is searching for signs of past life that are invisible to the naked eye. This part of the ROADS challenge seeks to provide a similar experience by the detection of an invisible gas called methane. On Earth, methane is typically produced by inorganic geological processes sometimes associated with volcanic or geothermal processes, or by organic processes associated with the decay of organic material, such as human activity, livestock farming, rich agricultural fields, swampy areas, and even home gardens or compost heaps. After detecting regions of high methane, the task is to do sampling using a microscope to see if there are any micro invertebrates (small animals with no backbones) in the area.
PART III — Robotic Exploration
Develop a rover and drone system to perform the required tasks on the official Mars challenge mat, which includes carrying a model lander to the surface of Mars, landing in the designated area, programming a LEGO Mindstorms robot to traverse the course, avoiding craters and mountains, picking up model surface samples, and testing for the relative abundance of idealized samples for the potential for life. Attempt to fly a mini-drone from the rover into the heart of a crater to take a picture of the crater wall.