Broadcast 1563 (Special Edition)

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Guest: Kevin Sloan. Topic: Mars Society’s University Rover Challenge (URC). You are invited to comment, ask questions, and discuss the Space Show program/guest(s) on the Space Show blog, Comments, questions, and any discussion must be relevant and applicable to Space Show programming. Transcripts of Space Show programs are not permitted without prior written consent from The Space Show (even if for personal use) & are a violation of the Space Show copyright. We welcomed back Kevin Sloan who is the Director of the Mars Society University Rover Challenge ( During the first segment, Kevin provided us with an introduction and the background to the Mars Society URC as we have many new listeners who might not be familiar with this fine program. He told us about the teams and the international component to the URC, including the fact this year there are three teams competing from Poland. In response to questions asked him about the growth of the URC, Kevin mentioned that there had been year to year growth for the competition and for 2011 there are more teams competing than there were last year. Kevin went over some of the rules and the tasks that the rovers must be able to do. You can find out more about the rules and read about the tasks that Kevin talked about at Download the .pdf document, then scroll down to section 3 for the description of the tasks. Listeners asked about coming to the MDRS near Hanksville, UT to see the contest but as you will hear, unfortunately there are no visitor facilities. The Mars Society should have this year’s results of the competition posted to the website by Sunday, June 5. In our second segment, we talked about the sponsorship for the URC and its funding. Kevin also explained that there was a cap on the cost of the rovers for each team but that the teams had to raise their own money for travel to and from Utah. We learned that there is an audit process to assure no team goes over the cap. Another listener asked about repairs and on site servicing if a rover needed work to complete its tasks. Kevin said this happens but it does not stop the clock for the rover team as each team is assigned a specific time limit to complete each task. When the contest ends on Saturday, all team members and participants in the contest celebrate with a BBQ banquet. As we started the third and final segment, questions came in regarding the materials used in the rovers and the typical power supply which Kevin said consisted of batteries. He said a few years ago a gasoline engine was used by one team but because of that, they passed rules about using gasoline engines in the future. Kevin got many questions about the background of team members, wondering if they were already space cadets, Mars enthusiasts, or robotic engineers minus the space connection. Don’t miss what he had to say about this. Near the end of our discussion, Kevin was asked about gender mix and possible DARPA or other agency sponsorship for the future. If you have comments or questions for Kevin Sloan, post them on the blog URL above. You can also email Kevin at



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26 May 2011 Kevin Sloan
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