NASA Mars Rover Webinar Offers Students a Great Opportunity

Are you fascinated by space travel and the Mars Rover missions in particular? On January 11, middle and lower school MB students had the “opportunity” to view a live presentation by Bekah Sosland Siegfriedt (in the photo on the right), Flight Director of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The discussion was about the Mars Rover, Opportunity. Opportunity was a research and exploration robot (along with another called Spirit) that NASA designed to work for 3 months to explore the surface of Mars, but instead it continued working for 15 years. A movie called “Oppy” on Amazon Prime (who sponsored this webinar), is based on the story of Opportunity.

When Dr. Siegfriedt’s started at NASA, she found herself working with the robot which had launched when she was in 8th grade. She shared that it’s definitely a “dream come true” to work on the rovers.

The rover robots are far more human-like than the types of robots that most people interact with in regular life. This is to help them do the types of sophisticated searching, gathering, and analysis required. For both Opportunity and Spirit their main mission was to determine if there has ever been drinkable water on Mars.

The current rover on Mars, which has been there now for 2 Earth years, is called Perseverance. Its mission focus: did life ever exist on Mars?

Dr. Siegfriedt said that much of her time is spent resolving problems that arise with the rovers, but that’s a good thing because for an engineer, problems are exciting. They can be confronted and resolved, which is a great life skill.