The Mission Control and SAND-E team have been busy at the Lafarge Canada pit in Navan running our Operational Readiness Test (ORT) for the last 2 days. Our team, along with scientists from Texas A&M and NASA Johnson Space Center, have been practicing operations with our rover and a drone… first in preparation for our analogue in Iceland in July, and hopefully eventually on Mars!
Some reasons we do an ORT:
– Discovering unknowns – we can plan everything out to the second, but we won’t know if we’ve missed an important detail until we try running the rover mission scenarios at ORT. The ORT will help us ask questions that we don’t think to ask when we’re planning things out on paper. Most of these questions will relate to how the human team members interpret data and interact with each other. The juiciest unknowns are always the human factors elements.
– ORTs also ensure that all of our systems and procedures are functioning and ready to go for the real deployment in Iceland.
– Testing allows us to compare how certain technologies, like ASAS and the drone, can affect the efficiency of science operations for a Mars rover mission (like Mars 2020).
– The ORT lets us practice a dry-run of our workflow and procedures before our primary mission. It allows us to identify problems in our mission operation design so that we can address them with software and procedural fixes. We also measure the time it takes for each step so that we can better plan and prepare for our mission.
The purpose of the ORT is not to test how well our technology performs but rather to test operations and interfaces, so our test site does not need to simulate our mission test site in terms of terrain features. We just need a big open playground for our robots, which we have here.
We and the SAND-E team are feeling great as we head towards our Iceland mission in early July!
This week, our team was so excited to showcase some of our very own proprietary rover control software that we have been developing over the past few years.
At an event at the Canada Aviation and Space Museum, we were able to demonstrate to students and industry partners what our company has been working towards on the education and outreach side. Not only were we able to talk with Woodroffe high school students about what we are working on and passionate about, we were also able to share the podium with inspiring STEM role model, Canadian Astronaut Robert Thirsk.
After presentations, students were able to drive our rover in New Mexico all the way from Ottawa. This was a small demo of what we offer in our Mission Control Academy program each year, and tied our work in New Mexico back to our partners and community back in Ottawa!
Over the greater part of March, the Mission Control team is here in White Sands National Monument, doing a final demonstration of our ASAS technology with support from Canadian Space Agency!
ASAS is a technology we’ve been working on since 2015. We are using this opportunity at White Sands National Monument to test our software in a natural sand environment, which doesn’t exist at the facilities we have access to in Ottawa.
Over the next three weeks or so, we will test core system functionality, localization performance, ASAS functionality (terramechanics model), new wheels and characterize slip-slope… among other things!
Follow us on twitter for daily updates: #MissionControlWSNM
Once again, Mission Control Academy was able to successfully run missions at International Space University’s Summer Space Program. This year, participants from around the world gathered in Cork, Ireland to learn about space and join the brilliant ISU network. Ewan, Michaela, and Melissa were all able to attend and deliver exciting expert lectures, one of the key parts of the MCA program.
Once again, the Canadian Space Agency allowed us the use of their Mars Yard, so participants had a realistic and exciting view of a simulated Mars terrain during their missions.
Mission Control Academy is not just for older students – STEM education is fun at all ages! Engagement of students beginning at a young age is one of the important aspects of the Mission Control Academy vision.
This year, we were able to partner up with Ashbury College, right in our hometown of Ottawa, ON. Not only were we able to deliver in-person lectures, elementary school students were able to travel to the Canadian Space Agency to operate their rover mission and tour the facilities. Thank you to the CSA for their help in execution of this mission!
The reaches of our program go far beyond the Northern Hemisphere!
University of Cape Town Space Lab, all the way in South Africa, is our second Mission Control site this summer! University level students have had the opportunity to learn directly from our team of experts on all of our MCA topics. Team Alpha and Bravo are blasting off this week, so follow our friends UCT on Twitter and keep up to date with our hashtag, #MissionControlAcademy and on Facebook!
Davidson Institute was the first run of Mission Control Academy this summer, all the way in Rehovot, Israel. Teams of students were able to remotely meet our team and learn about our MCA topics: Rover Systems, Planetary Science, and Space Mission Design. Finally, in their mission simulation they controlled a rover thousands of miles away in Montreal Canada on the Canadian Space Agency Mars Yard. Follow us on Twitter to see what’s happening with our MCA missions around the world this summer!
Mission Control Space Services is excited to announce the dates of the four Mars exploration missions we are deploying this summer.
Mission Control Academy is a high-fidelity rover simulation mission that engages participants in planetary science, engineering, planetary rover operations, and space mission planning. The program culminates with the opportunity to remotely drive a real planetary rover prototype at the Canadian Space Agency Mars Yard in Montreal, Canada.
Teams of participants around the world are preparing to blast off, so set your calendars and keep up to date with each mission by following the hashtag #MissionControlAcademy
Mission Control Academy at Davidson Institute of Science (Rehovot, Israel), June 5-7
Mission Control Academy at University of Capetown (UCT) (Cape Town, South Africa), July 13-14
Mission Control Academy at Ashbury College (Ottawa, Canada), July 14
Mission Control Academy at International Space University SSP (Cork, Ireland), Aug 1-2
Our team has been working hard to develop and refine our rover simulation education program, Mission Control Academy. This year has seen some great changes to our curriculum and mission planning, including expanding our program to new age groups and audiences.
We are excited to unveil our new Mission Control Academy logo. Look forward to seeing it in a few places around the world this summer!
This year’s RPEAM activity was a great success. Three teams, Alpha, Bravo, and Charlie, successfully completed the mission, communicating with a Ground Control and driving a rover in Montreal at the Canadian Space Agency Mars Yard.
To see media from the event, be sure to check out the #SSP16Mars tag on twitter and see the Mission Control Facebook page.