Six Indian students have made India proud by successfully completing National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Human Exploration Rover Challenge at the US Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama, reports have said.
The Barodian-led undergraduate students represented India at the NASA Human Exploration Rover Challenge, a report in TOI said.
Indian student Tirth Shah led the 'Team Technovators' which represented India. Shah, 20, is a student of NMIMS Mukesh Patel School of Technology Management and Engineering in Mumbai.
To take up the challenge, the students were required to design, build, test and race rovers powered by humans. One male and one female member was required to drive the human-powered rover.
The 99 teams participated in the NASA Human Exploration Rover Challenge from various countries including Brazil, Russia, Japan, Germany and Mexico and the US itself.
There was a nearly three-quarter-mile course which had 17 tough obstacles that mimic terrain present on Mars as well as other planets, moons and asteroids throughout the solar system.
"We had designed, fabricated and tested the rover which is capable of operating at the harsh terrains of various celestial bodies of the solar system. The challenge included designing, constructing and testing technologies for mobility devices to perform in environments of different celestial bodies of the solar system. It also included developing an advanced telemetry system along with features for astronaut safety," said Shah.
Apart from Shah the other five team members were – Anyun Sharma from Vadodara, Birva Ghodasara from Rajkot, Chirag Kulkarni from New Delhi, Dishit Kalsaria from Mumbai and Sarthak Agarwal from Mumbai.
"Just the way astronauts retrieve samples from other planets and moons, a mechanism for retrieval of samples was also to be made. The rover was tested at the US Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama where the surface of Mars and Moon were simulated. The rover is human powered," he said.
Dr Gerald Fishman, chief scientist at NASA appreciated the design.
"The wheels of the rover were designed after rigorous testing and prototyping. They were manufactured by using a very new and unique technique of additive printing which literally prints the design layer by layer. The design has partially bent vanes in order to decrease the rigidity which helps dampen the impulse caused by impacts with the large rocks and pits," he said, adding that because of its unique nature, the team has also filed for a patent for the design of the rover.
NASA aims for future exploration to Mars and beyond and the Rover Challenge was part of the US agency’s future plans. The NASA Human Rover Challenge is inspired by the lunar roving vehicles of the Apollo moon missions. The competition challenges students to solve engineering problems. NASA has been inspiring the new generation of scientists, engineers and explorers.