MUMBAI: At a time when three missions are headed towards the Red Planet — Nasa’s Perseverance, UAE’s Hope and China’s Tianwen-1 — Mumbai too has had its role, though in a different way.
The IIT-B Mars Rover Team got the fourth place in the Indian Rover Design Challenge in which 28 teams from seven countries participated. This was first of its kind competition where the teams had to design a rover taking into consideration Martian conditions organised by the South Asia branch of the Mars Society, with the parent body based in the US.
The competition challenges students to design a Mars rover which will be fully equipped and mission ready for operation on Mars. The research-oriented competition is “designed for students to explore their mind and spark the innovative design thinking of individuals without putting any constraints on available physical resources,” said a competition document.
Speaking to TOI on Monday team leaders of IIT-B Prathuk Joshi and Laher Gada, explained that though the competition is called Indian Rover Design Challenge, it has international participation as well.
They said that the competition took place on July 20 — coincidentally on the very day the UAE Hope Mars mission was launched—and the results were declared on Saturday.
Joshi and Gada said that the competition basically involved an online submission of an engineering design taking into consideration the Martian conditions and generate a design of a rover. This apart the other main challenge was that on account of Covid-19 the team members had to work remotely.
The mass of the rover which IIT-B designed was about 140 kg with all the components including an instrument to detect the possibility of life on Mars.
IIT-B has already made a rover, which they said they will now improve upon for participation in future international student rover competitions.