National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Glenn Research Center

DLN Rover Project

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DLN Mars Rover Simulator

The DLN Mars Rover Simulator is an educational project to simulate what it would be like to be a MARS Rover driver and researcher. The project is being developed as part of the Digital Learning Network (DLN). What makes this project special is that the majority of the work has been done by students working at the NASA Glenn Research Center as part of the Exploring Program, Shadowing Program and Summer Internship programs. See the About Page for more information about this. Their work was done under the direction of the Mission Support Computing Office and Digital Learning Network at NASA Glenn.

This Web site gives background information about this project and also provides the interface for running the simulator.

Much more work needs to be done to make the rover and this site ready for use in lessons. Stay tuned!

The DLN Rover

The rover, nicknamed SUMMER ( Stereo Unmanned Mini Mars Exploration Rover ), includes cameras so that students may view the image that the rover views, thus providing them with the ability to remotely drive the rover throughout the simulated Mars terrain. In addition, the online application promotes computer science education, as students have the ability to write their own code to download to the robot. This code will operate autonomously, and students will learn about various features of space rovers which will involve mathematical calculations and strategic planning. The project will simulate for students the current Mars rovers, Spirit and Opportunity.

Features of the rover includes:

  • Command and control via a Web page
  • A pair of cameras for stereo imaging
  • The camera can be rotated 360 degrees so that it can take panorama images.
  • Simple photogrammetry to measure distances to objects
  • Real time driving: Although this isn't realistic, it's a fun way to try driving the rover and seeing the images it returns
  • "Blind driving": This is a more realistic scenario where a rover program is written and then uploaded to the rover, executed and results returned.

This activity is targeted at middle and high school students. If you would like to do a distance learning activity with this rover, please contact the NASA Glenn Digital Learning Network Coordinator, Dave Mazza.