GSA Annual Meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, USA - 2019

Paper No. 181-10
Presentation Time: 11:15 AM


LAMM, Sarah N., Department of Physics and Astronomy, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, AZ 86001 and BOSCH, Jeanette S., Independent STEM Outreach/Education Coordinator, Manhattan, KS 66502

Planetary Geology has a disadvantage to other disciplines when it comes to outreach, since the area of study is not on this planet and spacecrafts are usually too large to display. NASA’s Curiosity Rover is a robotic geologist traversing Mars since 2012. Though sometimes it is hard to visualize the true size of Curiosity of 3.0 meters by 2.8 meters by 2.2 meters. To fix this problem, I designed two full-scale models of the Curiosity Rover that can be used at outreach events. It should be noted that the models use the dimensions of the chassis, not the full rover width which includes the wheels.

The first model is called “String Rover”, and is made from string, dowel rods, wire wreath frames, meter sticks, and a cardboard box. The pros to this model are that it includes audience participation, it is compact when storing and transporting, easier to construct, it does include the height of the wheels, and is affordable on most budgets. Though, not being able to display the String Rover during the entire presentation is a con. This model needs to be held up by five to eleven people, depending on the size and age of the participants. For the String Rover model, only Curiosity’s chassis is included but not its radioisotope thermoelectric generator (aka Curiosity’s “tail”).

The second model is called “PVC Pipe Rover”, which is made from PVC pipe, silver fabric, and a cardboard box. This model is free-standing, is photogenic, and easier to visualize than the String Rover. Cons are this model takes about 20 minutes to set up, it is heavier and more expensive than the String Rover, it does not include Curiosity’s wheels, and it does take up more storage space.

Both models are portable and reusable, but does not include the arm. In addition to showing the size of the rover, these models show the size of the ChemCam instrument and the laser range. Inside of the cardboard box is 7 m of red ribbon attached to a round handle. The cardboard box also has a hole cut in it for the handle to be pulled through allowing the red ribbon to be pulled up to 7 meters away from the rover model. The String Rover has been used over 40 times, and the PVC Pipe Rover has been used about 20 times. These models have increased the qualitative engagement of the audience.