A little bit of Mars - a 140 square metre Marsyard - has been recreated in the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney, complete with two rovers and a working laboratory for space robotics and astrobiology researchers. The public exhibition is part of the Pathways to Space project led by Dr. Carol Oliver at the Australian Centre for Astrobiology at the University of New South Wales, Sydney. There are three other consortium members - the Australian Centre for Field Robotics at the University of Sydney (which designed and built the rovers), the Powerhouse Museum, which is Australia's largest science museum, and industry partner Cisco.
Pathways to Space has been funded with a million dollar grant from the Australian Federal Government's Australian Space Science Research Program, matched by a total of $1.5M in kind from the project partners. A high school student-focused education program is at the heart of the project. The key objective - to be tested by longitudinal research - is to encourage 50 to 100 students from more than 2000 participants to go onto space-related university courses and, eventually, space-related careers.
The project also has the facility to allow schools across Australia - and potentially overseas - to participate using its TelePresence system and unique rover driving and exploration software to draw in any school with a standard video system. A monthly forum is planned for students with guests from around the world sharing their Visions of Mars and answering student questions via TelePresence.
For more information: http://www.pathwaystospace.org