Sunday, March 14, 2010

'Build your own Rover'

Hi everyone and welcome back! This is the first XSAS blog after spring break. After the fun times we all had during our break, it was time to get back to working on XSAS.
The CDR was an important milestone and gave the team some important feedback. It is now time to work in high gear as the semester has just over a month left and flight week is just over 3 months away.
Taking into account the CDR feedback, this week’s schedule was quite busy. A resistor or Nichrome is going to be used to burn the wire in the release mechanism. This requires extensive testing in terms of the burn time, nichrome grades and resitance values. Also other options available instead of dyneema need to be looked into because dyneema is very strong but it also has a high melting point. These tests are to begin early in the week. Another important thing to be done was to finish the machining of the XSAS prototype and assemble it by next week so that ground testing may be able to begin.
But the most exciting event that happened this week was the beginning of the 6-week long ‘Build your own Rover program’ as part of XSAS outreach activities. The program which is being participated by 5th, 6th and 7 graders from various schools in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti kicked-off with an introduction workshop on 13th March. In this workshop, the students were first shown a microgravity video of the team who tested their project last year. The video got them all excited about the workshop and the activities they will be doing. After that, a few team building activities were organized which would help the kids to get to know each other. It was then time to actually build something! The kids had to build an ‘egg-drop mechanism’; they would toss an egg from the 2nd and 3rd floor of the FXB building without breaking it. There was some standard material which was given to all the teams and they had to choose from some other things which would enable them to build a better mechanism. In this activity, the students got a chance to display their creativity and also their presentation skills because they had to present their designs to everyone. Many innovative designs were seen and it was fortunate that none of the eggs broke thus avoiding messing up the building! Overall the event was a lot of fun for everyone and the kids also learnt a lot and were all looking forward to the forthcoming weeks when they would build their own rover.    

Thanks and keep reading.

Manan Thakkar
XSAS Payload Team

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