maker playground

robots in space | middle school

The Perseverance Rover is a self-driving robotic science lab. Learn about Perseverance’s capabilities and mission, then design a rover for any planet in our solar system.

explore

In deep space, robots help us expand our horizons and learn about hard-to-reach places where humans can’t yet travel. Scientists and engineers design and use robots to take pictures, map topography, and analyze samples in unexplored areas beyond Earth’s atmosphere. Since the first rover, Lunokhod 1, landed on the Moon in 1970, these robotic science labs have allowed us to remotely perform scientific experiments, sending data and pictures back to humans here on Earth.

NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance is the most advanced rover yet! Perseverance is on Mars looking for signs of ancient microbial life, collecting rock and soil samples, and helping us prepare for future human exploration. Check out all the scientific instruments aboard NASA’s Perseverance Rover that will help scientists better understand how humans might one day travel to Mars.

Perseverance also carried a surprising stowaway — a 4 pound helicopter named Ingenuity. Ingenuity’s mission is to test the first powered, controlled flight on another planet. Powered by solar panels, Ingenuity recharges to take one 90 second flight per day, traveling just under 1000 feet, and sending images back to Earth.

Watch NASA’s Perseverance Mission Overview

Learn more about the planets in our solar system

imagine

Robots allow us to go places where humans can’t go (yet!). Where in our solar system would you like to explore with the help of a robot?

Choose a planet you are curious about, and design a robot that can explore that new frontier and answer your biggest questions.

  • Where will your robot go?
  • What features will your robot need to explore that location?
  • What questions will your robot help answer? How will it collect information to help you find those answers?

For more inspiration, watch this history of Mars rover technology.

create

Once you know where your robot will go and what it will do when it gets there, it’s time to design! Create a model of your robot using any tools or materials you’d like. To create a digital 3D model, try using TinkerCAD. TinkerCAD is a free, online modeling program where you can combine shapes to make your own creations. To get started in TinkerCAD, check out these helpful how-to videos:

If you’d rather build something off-screen, you can create your model robot using cardboard, other recycled materials, clay, or building blocks like LEGOs.

However you choose to make your model, be sure to share your work with us by emailing a photo or file of your design to socialmedia@kid-museum.org. You might see your work on our website or Instagram page!