Principal investigator of the Mars rover missions, Prof. Steven Squyres ’78 is “now teaching adults, college students, who cannot remember a time when there wasn’t a rover on Mars.” The rover, Opportunity, who has been on Mars for 14 years became unresponsive in June following a massive dust storm on the planet.
With the attention that Mars has been getting, lately, a lot of people are now excited about the world of opportunities that it presents. However, even before the discovery of water on Mars in September 2015 or the release of the movie The Martian, a small group of students at Cornell have been working to prepare the next generation Mars rover which can work alongside humans on the planet. The Cornell Mars Rover team participates in the University Rover Challenge, which takes place on the Mars Desert Research Station in Hanksville, Utah. The competition encourages college students to design and build a rover that could be used in the field and rovers are tested on the basis of tasks that resemble what a mission from the future might look like. Cornell consistently performs well in the competition, according to John Draikiwicz ’17, the team’s engineering manager.