A team of four Grade 8 and 9 students at Crestomere School will have an out-of-this-world experience on Jan. 26, as they virtually control a lunar rover on a “Moon-like” surface.
“Our classroom will become Mission Control for three hours,” said teacher Amanda De Atley, who supervises the team, which are Hudson Hummel, Josiah Steeves, Ash Sargent and Carter Tylke.
The group, which calls themselves the Stingrays, was one of four teams (and the only one from Alberta) to win the Lunar Research Challenge, a national space competition.
The competition is sponsored by Let’s Talk Science, Canadensys Aerospace Corporation and Avalon Space, with support from the Canadian Space Agency.
The prize is the opportunity to pilot a lunar rover, allowing the students to interact with technology that will be part of Canada’s upcoming space mission.
The rovers, designed by Canadensys, will be Canada’s first lunar rover to be sent to the moon — as early as 2026.
The Stingrays’ winning project was like a board game where the participants travel to the moon amongst terrain risks while managing rover battery and temperature with a goal to find ice deposits that could be used for water if the moon could be used as a space station, said De Atley.
Then they put together a research proposal for their ideal mission.
“For the mission they will do this week it will be up on a screen and their whole class will participate to find water,” she said, adding it’s like a virtual reality experience where they will see the terrain and have to make decisions about where to drive.
“(They will) have a map but have to figure out where they are and work together to find ice deposits. The navigators will have to inform the drivers.
“There are also scientists who will take readings and a group who monitors data as well as a group who monitors battery and temperature data. The groups all have to communicate together to find as many ice deposits as possible.”
Three facilitators are coming from Ontario for the “mission.”
“We are going to see a growing amount of activity around the Moon over the coming years, with Canada’s first astronaut likely flying to the Moon in the next couple of years, and Canada’s first lunar rover flying shortly after that,” Dr. Nadeem Ghafoor, CEO of Avalon Space, in a press release.
“It is a genuine privilege to be able to open the experience of these upcoming missions to a new generation and seeing the wonder, discovery and ambition through their eyes reminds us all of how we ourselves felt when we first began our journey working in space.”