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Rescue on Mars


The child engineers solving space scenarios


By Carlo Pisani



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Inside a worldwide simulated rescue action on Mars, where children used robots they programmed remotely. (Carlo Pisani, swissinfo.ch)

In 2032, a space station’s power generator on Mars is damaged by a meteorite. The 16 robots on site assess the damage and restart the main generator. Delays in communication due to the distance make direct remote control of the robots impossible, so a team of engineers back on earth has to programme the robots from the little information that they get from the video feed.

This is the backdrop to the R2T2 simulation in November. The conditions were realistic, except that the Mars space station was at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology of Lausanne (EPFL), the institution behind the simulation. 

This educational event combined robotics and space exploration and involved 16 different teams of 8 to 16 years-olds, who produced live broadcasts on YouTube from their classrooms across Switzerland, Austria, France, Italy, Russia and South Africa. 

swissinfo.ch visited one of the participating teams in Geneva.