When we came to the first meeting of NASA Epic Challenge project, 5th of September, we did not have any idea what we are going to do in the project. The only thing we knew was that we are going to tackle epic challenge of sustaining humans on Mars. It includes many subproblems such as Resource assessment, Super robust food production, Mars suit, Mars chamber and others as we know now.
But back in our first meeting, without any idea about what is coming next, we were just all excited to be a part of such huge project from NASA, everyone with his/her own feelings and expectations about the project. First things covered were, obviously, introduction to what is the project and what challenges are there for us to face as well as team formation.
Although it took longer time than I expected to finally form the groups, it was done and then we started to solve the challenges right away. Joking. We first had decided about team management and policy; met collaboratory – online platform where we will work during the project; learnt how to write weekly reports. But it is the beginning, right?
After that the real work starts. And it starts from choosing your challenge topic, obviously.
Our team as well as one other team from Tampere has chosen new and untouched in “Epic Challenge” project topic – Mars Drone.
I bet you are already imagining some quadcopter flying around above the Mars surface, transporting objects or people, analyzing area, or being a guard of the camp. Well, is it a quadcopter? We do not know. How can we make drone fly in Mars’ atmosphere when it is so different from atmosphere of the Earth? What design it should have? Which power source should be used? That is what our team has taken as a challenge – “Flyable Mars drone”. And that is where the name of our team comes from as well.
We are planning to use our differences as a tool in finding the best solution to the challenge and implement it. To help us innovate, we study methods and working approaches used in NASA such as ICED, biologically inspired design, TRIZ, PUGH and others. Although sending actual drone to Mars is out of our league, we will do our best in creating concept or prototype of the drone that will one time start to serve our common goal of Sustaining humans on Mars.