St. Joseph High School Astronomy Students Build a Working Model of the Mars Sojourner Robotic Vehicle


Students in the St. Joseph High School Astronomy class recently completed a class project which resulted in a unique working model of NASA's Mar's Sojourner Robotic Vehicle which was part of the successful Mar's Rover mission. The students, all Seniors, involved were: Karen Carty, Uriah Gaston, Needal Rahman, Cristel Rodriquez, Cuthbert Victor, and Michelle Williams. They were all enrolled in the course taught by Bro. James Petrait, O.S.F.S.

Using the knowledge learned in the first semester course in Electronics during which they all built their own radios, the students added the ideas learned in the second semester course in Astronomy. Working cooperatively together, each student played a different role in the the development of the model Sojourner vehicle. Some took responsibility for researching internet resources, while others did the soldering, and testing the remote operation of the robotic vehicle.

Other schools have built Sojourner models from kits which are operated indoors by a vehicle with a long wire connected to a computer video camera. The St. Joseph High School project is unique because it was designed by the class from the ground up. The main chassis consists of a stripped down model of a radio-controlled model truck and added to it are solar cells and a wireless security camera.

The model of the Sojourner vehicle is able to wander around the classroom and leave it and explore the outside world up to around 500 feet away. It is controlled by the controller device that came with the original model of the truck. During its operation, video and sound are sent back to monitoring units by means of a 900 mhz. signal. The monitoring units consist of a small screen TV and a large 32" TV. During the monitoring, the data can be saved on a videotape for later playback. The bank of 4 solar cell panels on the vehicle put12 volts into the vehicle to recharge its battery during its operation in sunlight. While operating in sunlight, the solar cells give the vehicle the extra power needed for rougher terrain explorations.

It is planned that the Sojourner model will be improved during the next school year at St. Joseph High School with devices to measure temperatures and other environmental variables added to it. By continuing the project, students will be able to keep up the educational excellence of the students in the 1999-2000 Electronics/Astronomy class.

(Astronomy Class Students) (Left to right): Uriah Gaston, Michelle Williams, Karen Carty, Needal Rahman, Cuthbert Victor, and Cristel Rodriquez. The large screen TV is being used as one of the monitors of the Sojourner model.

The Sojourner model is shown in the photo with the smaller monitor and a controller on a lab table.

The Sojourner vehicle explores the grass-covered terrain on the Earthian island environment of St.Croix on the campus of St. Joseph High School.

The Sojourner vehicle sights an Earthian tree on the campus of St. Joseph High School.

From here you can go back to ST. JOSEPH HIGH SCHOOL NEWS FROM THE 1999-2000 SCHOOL YEAR

©2000, James A. Petrait