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Tips for Building Transportation Systems

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Here are some ideas to help you learn more about your life-support system. Make sure you divide up the topics and share your findings on the Team Blog.

  • Look at the many types of local transportation systems on Earth. How do they work and why?
  • Find out how transportation is addressed in remote parts of Canada (in the mountains, areas separated by water) and relate this to the Martian terrain.
  • Research various forms of space travel. Examine the early types of rockets, spacecraft, landing vehicles and the Space Shuttle Discovery.
  • Create a database of information about forms of space travel. Ask an online mentor to add information in the Team Blog.
  • Find out how NASA is getting materials into space to build the International Space Station. Write or email NASA and the CSA for information or visit their Web sites. Compare these methods with what will be needed for the construction of a Mars colony.
  • Discuss how the people and all the equipment are going to get to Mars. Consider the time element involved.
  • Work on draft plans for your transportation system and check these plans with other groups across Canada who are also working on this topic. Make working diagrams (to scale!) and send these to other groups to see if they can duplicate your model(s).
  • Write detailed assembly instructions to be used by other workers on Mars. Remember, no additional information or materials will be available once they get there. Test the accuracy of your instructions by sending them to another team.
  • Experiment with using different forms of energy for the vehicles on Mars. Use the same design with different energy sources and compare results. Look at how Sojourner (the Mars Rover) was powered when it landed on Mars.
  • Test the vehicles on the contour map of Mars to simulate the variety of terrains. Record the information on a spreadsheet program. Will the vehicles be able to travel over all different types of ground?
  • Test the vehicles in sand and water to determine what mass the vehicles can carry.
  • Challenge the transportation teams across Canada to replicate your experiments.
  • Invite a mechanic or engineer to the class to discuss problems with construction and testing of vehicles.
  • Find the cost of creating each vehicle by assigning a monetary value to the different design materials. Enter the data into a spreadsheet program. Use this information to create the most cost efficient vehicle -- but make sure it still works!
  • Work with the other system teams to see what transportation needs they are going to require.