Mars Rover: Engineering a Landing

Our next science-based family fun night is focusing on a Mission to Mars! We will be engineering rocket ships while investigating projectile motion, a win-win for everyone (who doesn’t want to load up a film canister or design a rocket shell?!?). Of course, getting to Mars is only half the battle, what about landing your rocket or Mars rover?

For this add-on activity, we will be doing the infamous egg drop. Can you engineer a delivery package that will safely deliver your Mars rover (aka your egg) to the ground after a one or two story fall? In our house we love to do our experiments over, and over, and over, and over again. The idea of dropping a dozen eggs, watching half of them, if not more, break on the pavement below was not my idea of fun. I’m also doing this project with our local astronomy club, and the idea of 50 kids dropping eggs? No thank you! That didn’t sway me from the idea of developing a Mars rover delivery package though. After a bit of research, I found some reasonably priced indicators that let you know if something has been hit! Apparently, it just took the right google search of broken shipment indicators!

We got our Drop N Tell indicators from A-Pak Inc. They were the most cost efficient we could find, and they let us mix and match our indicators (there are all different types of levels, from 5G to 100G). Make sure to get the re-settable type for more hours of fun! For our project, I got a mix of 25G, 50G, and 100G. Surviving the 100G indicator means your Mars rover landed and wasn’t smashed to smithereens, but that is about it. Surviving the 50G indicator means your rover landed intact and can move around, but all scientific equipment was damaged while surviving the 25G indicator mean your rover survived the landing perfectly, with all communications and scientific lab equipment working! The indicators only work in one direction, so you need to take that into consideration when you release it from a balcony! Check back on our blog for an update on how the project went, and see our YouTube video on how the Drop n Tell indicators work!