Manually Activated Rover for Investigation and Observation

On July 4th, 1997, the Mars Pathfinder spacecraft landed on the Martian surface. This historic event marked a return to the Red Planet following the 21 year absence since the Viking missions of the 1970's. Nestled inside Pathfinder was Sojourner, a robotic vehicle designed to roll down a deployed ramp and explore the Martian terrain. Using binocular cameras combined with a virtual reality display, NASA engineers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory would be able to "drive" Sojourner and analyze rock and soil samples, thereby yielding clues to the Martian past.

During the spring of 1997, members of Tim McCollum's Tech Team at Charleston Jr. High School successfully designed and built a computer controlled Lego Dacta rover they named M.A.R.I.O. and a simulated Martian surface - complete with rocks and craters. Using the Internet, they also were able to remotely drive rovers at other locations through the Red Rover, Red Rover project. The images and video clips below are from NASA, many taken from Pathfinder on Mars, and from M.A.R.I.O. at Charleston Jr. High School.

Left - Landing site on Mars for Pathfinder ( 19.5 N, 32.8 W). Right - Exploration site for M.A.R.I.O. ( 39.5 N, 88.2 W ).

Left - The "Twin Peaks" on the Martian horizon, as viewed from Pathfinder. Right - A view from M.A.R.I.O. across the simulated Martian terrain.

Click here to view Sojourner moving down ramp onto Martian surface.

Click here for a 3-D view from M.A.R.I.O. (blue-red glasses required)

Click here to view M.A.R.I.O. in motion (584K Quicktime)

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