The rover touches the Red Planet next month, and students are invited to join the excitement by designing, building and landing their own mission on Mars. NASA can help.
On February 18, NASA will try to land the Mars 2020 Mars rover Perseverance on the surface of the Red Planet, and you can join the excitement with NASA’s student challenge mission. Classrooms, non-formal education groups, families and people can design, build and land their own spaceships – just as NASA scientists and engineers do. And for added inspiration, there’s the handy toolkit of the Mars 2020 STEM tool, full of activities, videos and more.
We want to reach every classroom in America and beyond with the Mars Mission student challenge, and we want to share not only the thrill of landing on the Persistence of Mars 2020, but also what goes into achieving such achievements. “possible,”
Approximately the size of an SUV, the Perseverance carries the small helicopter of ingenuity on its belly. While the helicopter is an experiment designed to make the first powered, controlled flight to another planet, it does not play a role in the science that Perseverance will conduct. The main goal of the rover’s mission is astrobiology, including the search for signs of ancient microbial life. Persistence will characterize the planet’s geology and past climate, pave the way for human exploration of the Red Planet, and will be the first mission to collect samples from Martian rock, as well as regolith, which is broken stone and dust.
To do this, the rover must first land and landing on Mars is difficult. Only about half of all attempts by the world’s space agencies have succeeded – all by NASA. The last time the rover landed on the Red Planet was in 2012 with the NASA Curiosity rover.
Like Curiosity, perseverance must survive the “seven minutes of terror” – a fiery journey through the Martian atmosphere with the help of a heat shield, parachute and rockets. During the celestial crane maneuver, the descent phase will lower the Mars rover to Mars with nylon cables.
But this latest landing involves an even higher level of difficulty: The most complex rover ever built, Perseverance is the largest and most difficult landing attempt on Mars. And it will test new technologies when it touches.
Participate in a global “learning moment” and engage students to travel as NASA lands on the Perseverance rover on Mars on February 18. Emily Calandrelli, the scientific communicator and host of Emily’s Wonderful Netflix Lab, shares how you can join the adventure with your students.
More on the challenge
By participating in the Mars Mission student challenge, you can also land your own rover. Activities include:
- Flexible, guided five-week education plan for elementary, middle, and high school students with standardized STEM lessons and NASA activities.
- Weekly newsletter with links to tips and resources related to the mission phase of the week.
- Video conversations with mission scientists and engineers that highlight how their work relates to what students learn – plus ideas for launching the weekly challenge.
- Opportunities to participate in Questions and Answers with mission experts and submit questions for students and work that may be presented during NASA broadcasts before and on the day of landing.
With STEM tools in hand, you can learn more about the mission and have fun while on it. You will find:
- Stories about students who have shown perseverance and ingenuity.
- Fresh animations highlighting the rover and the helicopter.
- Ability to encode your own games to explore Mars.
- Make crafts with a space theme.
- And much, much more.
“The Mars Mission Student Challenge provides a fun and engaging way for students everywhere to get excited and learn about this important landing on Mars and join NASA as we land on the Red Planet,” said Otta Lutz, who runs STEM Elementary. and Secondary Educational Group at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. “The challenge will include fun and engaging activities for younger and older students, who will have the opportunity to ask questions from NASA experts and share their work with a global audience.”
You can watch the landing events live on NASA TV and the agency’s website, starting at 2:15 PM EST (11:15 AM PST) on February 18, in English and Spanish. The touch will take place around 15:55 EST (12:55 PST).
Do your students have questions about the mission? Share them on the Challenge website and they can be read live during the NASA broadcast.
To read more about the challenge:
To learn more about perseverance:
News media contact
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA.