Perseverance on Mars
Can you bring home Perseverance on Mars?
By putting themselves in the shoes of an Opportunity robot programmer on Mars, the student discovers the means to verify that a movement is rectilinear.
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In this activity, students are tasked with conducting a series of experiments to enable the Perseverance robot, which has recently landed on Mars, to autonomously follow a straight path without relying on GPS. The main objective they pursue is to explore and develop methods for precise navigation in the challenging Martian environment, using the concept of "rectilinear movement."
Here are the specific steps and objectives of the activity:
1. Understanding Rectilinear Movement: Students learn about the concept of rectilinear movement, which refers to the motion of a point body moving in a straight line within a given frame of reference.
2. Identifying Measuring Instruments: The first task involves students thinking about and identifying measuring instruments that could be used to make their phone follow a straight path on Earth.
3. Recording Rectilinear Movement: Students are instructed to take their phones outside their homes and use the chosen measuring instrument to record a rectilinear movement over a distance of approximately 150 paces.
4. Analyzing the Graph: After recording the movements, students analyze the graph of their phone's trajectory to determine if it adhered to a straight path in the terrestrial frame of reference.
5. Exploring Alternative Sensors: Considering that Mars lacks a magnetic field, students are prompted to think about alternative sensors present in their Opportunity phones that could assist in achieving straight-line movement on the planet's surface.
6. Trying New Ideas: Students are encouraged to experiment with the identified alternative sensor and identify any problems they encounter while implementing it.
7. Brainstorming a Third Solution: In case the second solution fails, students are asked to come up with the idea of a third measuring instrument that might be effective for guiding the robot in a straight line.
8. Testing the Third Solution: Students try the third solution and record their movements to evaluate its efficacy as a troubleshooting measure.
9. Documenting Experiments: Throughout the activity, students document all experiments, data, observations, and any conclusions they draw about the robot's control on the planet Mars.
The overarching goal of this activity is to stimulate creative thinking, problem-solving, and innovation among students. By exploring various methods and instruments for autonomous navigation, they contribute to the advancement of robotics technology and pave the way for successful exploration of the Martian landscape. The activity fosters a spirit of curiosity and perseverance as students embrace challenges and contribute to the ongoing exploration of the cosmos.