|Mars scientists used images from the Mars Exploration Rovers to help them with their recent simulation "games" for the Mars Science Laboratory rover. This image from the Spirit rover was used by the scientists to decide where to drill in one of the tests.|
When you're training for a tough task, role-playing games can prepare you for the real thing. Scientists play "games" too. Sixty Mars scientists from around the world just finished four exercises to practice directing the Mars Science Laboratory rover's activities after it lands.
First, everyone connected by internet and telephone. For each test, the team received a different situation for the rover and directions for preparing its science activities. They had to stay within the boundaries of how much time the rover was "awake" and how much power they could use. For the last test, they had to agree on what place to drill on a rock and what measurements to make.
Who won? Everyone! In each test, they agreed on plans that met their goals. The team scored a win for now, but they must continue to practice before the rover lands -- when their quick-thinking and teamwork really count!
More about the mission's science goals.
Details on how scientists plan to use the rover: