The Importance of Robotics

It’s very important to have electronics on a mission to Mars. First, we need to find out how they work first in order for everything to go correct on the mission. One thing that we know is that there are two types of electrical signals, analog signals and digital signals. In an analog signal, the electric current smoothly moves up and down, in the same way a wave from a splash moves smoothly across an otherwise still pond. These electrical signals can carry information. In a digital signal, the digital signal jumps abruptly as oppose to the smooth analog signal. Each jump is represented by a number. Because of this, a series of numbers can represent something. Another thing that we know is that semiconductors, like silicon and germanium, are useful in electronics. They are useful because when you add impurities to them, you can control whether they conduct or don’t conduct electricity. A third thing we know is that diodes, transistors and integrated circuits are used in electronic circuits. Diodes are used in an electronic circuit in order to better control the flow of the in the circuit. They are also used to change alternating current to direct current. Alternating current means that the electrical signal changes. The diodes make the current stay steady, which is direct current. Transistors are used to amplify signals in an electric circuit. Transistors can also act as switches. Integrated circuits are used in all types of computers. Now that we know the basic things about electronics, we can start deciding on what we will need for the mission.

In the space mission, where the goal is to go to Mars, and search for life, electronics are extremely important. The navigational computer is where we would need electronics. The oxygen tank is also another use for electronics on a space mission. The heater is also another electronic machine that is needed. The computers that analyze the Martian soil are also need electronics to work. A machine that purifies the cabin’s air is also a much needed. We know what to build, so now all we have to do is build it!


Rocketry Through the Ages

Now, in order to get to Mars, we have to understand how rocketry works, from when it first appeared. The first invention that used escaping gas as a propulsion system was the hero engine, invented by a Greek inventor, Hero of Alexandria; around 100 B.C. Hero used stead as a propulsive gas, he set a sphere with two l-shaped cubes above a water kettle. The kettle boiled the water, and the two l-shaped tubes allowed the gas to escape, making the sphere spin. The first rockets were made by the Chinese. They accidentally made gunpowder by mixing saltpeter, sulfur, and charcoal dust. During religious festivals, they filled bamboo tubes with the gunpowder as noisemakers. Some of them failed to explode, and skittered out of the fire. The Chinese began experimenting with gunpowder in tubes. The Chinese realized that the tubes would launch themselves just by the power of the escaping gas, and the true rocket was made. The first time the Chinese used the rockets in war was during the Battle of Kai-Keng in 1232. The Mongols called them “arrows of flying fire”. The Mongols are responsible for the spread of rockets to Europe. Experiments for rockets were happening all throughout Europe during the 13th, 14th, and 15th centuries. Roger Bacon, a monk in England, worked on with an improved form of gunpowder that increased the range of the rockets greatly. Jean Froissart, from France, discovered that launching the rockets through tubes would increase the accuracy of the rockets. From Italy, Joanes de Fontana designed a rocket-powered torpedo that worked on the surface to set enemy ships on fire. Fireworks and warfare were the two main uses for rockets at this time.




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Chinese Fire-Arrows



The modern rocketry era started in 1898, when Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, a Russian schoolteacher, suggested exploring space using rockets. He suggested that a liquid propellant would achieve a much greater range. Tsiolkovsky stated that the speed and range of a rocket were only limited by the velocities of escaping gases. Then, during the early 20th century, an American, Robert H. Goddard, conducted practical experiments in rocketry. After measuring the velocities of escaping gas from the solid-propellant rockets, Goddard was convinced that a rocket would be better propelled by liquid fuel. On March 16, 1926, Goddard achieved his first successful flight with a liquid propelled rocket. The rocket flew for 2.5 seconds, climbed 12.5 meters, and landed 56 meters away in a cabbage patch. This rocket was a forerunner to a whole new rocket era. Goddard’s rockets grew bigger, flew higher, and became increasingly more complex. Some of the equipment that he included in his rocket was a gyroscope system for controlling flight and a payload filled with scientific instruments. He also put in a parachute recovery system in order to keep his equipment safe. Because of Goddard’s discovery, small rocket societies popped up all over the world. In Germany, a rocket society, the Verein fur Raumschiffahrt, created the V-2 rocket as a weapon used against London. The V-2 rocket was smaller than our current rockets, but was still a formidable weapon, and could easily take out many city blocks. Luckily for the allies, this came too late in the war to change the course of the war. Some of the German rocket scientists went to the United States after the war, and some went to the Soviet Union. Both countries realized the potential of using rocketry as a military weapon, and started experimental programs studying this. On October 4, 1957, the Soviet Union successfully launched an artificial satellite that was orbiting the Earth, named Sputnick I. Explorer I was launched by the US army on January 31, 1958. In October 1958, the US organized their space program, by starting NASA (national aeronautics and space administration), a civilian agency whose only purpose was to explore space peacefully for all of mankind. From gunpowder tubes to giant machines, rockets have evolved, and have opened up space as yet another doorway for mankind to explore



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Sputnick I


Rocket Stages Animation


Learn more about this project

Rocket Parts Description


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Rocket Experiment Results


After the button was pressed, our rocket waited about five seconds before igniting. As soon as it ignited, the rocket flew up, and the engine burned for about two seconds. The burn took the rocket up about 65% of the way up. Then, for three seconds, the rocket coasted. This took the rocket the other 35% up. Then, the rocket turned about 45°, and then blew its top off. The parachute immediately filled up with air, and the rocket was floating with the wind. It took about 30 seconds to get back to the ground. Because we painted our rocket so much, it was weighed down quite a bit. This prevented it from reaching it as high as possible. My hypothesis, painting the rocket too much would prevent it from reaching as high as possible, was right. However, the construction of the rocket was flawless. The fins were glued on perfectly straight, and everything on the inside was glued in perfectly in place. In order to improve our rocket flight, we could make the paint it more smoothly, and use less paint, so that it won’t weigh as much, and this will allow it to fly even higher.

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The purpose of our rocket experiment was to find out whether mass affects the height of the apogee of the rocket. What we did was attach jumper wires to the igniter, and pressed a button at the same time a key was pressed down in order to launch. This was done for eight different rockets, and the height of the apogee of the rocket was measured using angle guns, trundle wheels, and trigonometry. First, two people walked 100 meters away from the rocket using a trundle wheel. Then, they aimed up the rocket in the angle gun’s sights, pulled the trigger, and lifted the trundle wheel to show that they were ready. Then, after the rocket was launched, the two people kept the trigger pulled, and kept the rocket in their sights. When the rocket reached the apogee, the two people let go of the trigger, and read off the angle reading. The angle reading was recorded. In order to find the height of the rocket, the tangent was found. The heights were 111.0612515 meters, 83.90996312 meters, 100 meters, 93.25150861 meters, 107.236871 meters, 60.0860619 meters, 140.1948294 meters, 64.94075932 meters, and 85.40806855 meters for each rocket. The average of these heights is 94 meters.


The Importance of Astronomy in the Search for Life on Mars


Astronomy is important while searching for life on Mars. First of all, we need to know how and when to protect ourselves outside of our rocket. We also need to know about the magnetic field of the planet so that we know the amount of natural protection that we have, if we have any at all. Knowing what the atmosphere consists of is also crucial information because we need to know how much oxygen we need to pack. Knowing average asteroid bombardment per day, where they hit the planet, and when they hit the planet would also be important information because we need to know which areas to avoid, when, and how often to avoid them. Because of these reasons, astronomy is a need-to-know science if you are going out to search for life on Mars.

To read more about astronomy, click on this link: More About Astronomy


History Of Robotics


Robotics may seem modern, but the first robot was made by the Greeks in 350 B.C. The Greek mathematician, Archytas, made a mechanical bird around this time called “the Pigeon” that could be propelled by steam. The next big invention of robotics was in 1738. Jacques de Vaucanson began creating automata in France. The first automaton he built was a flute player that could play twelve songs. The next automaton he built could play a flute while playing a drum or a tambourine. This automaton quickly followed the invention of his first one. The third automaton he created was a duck, which moved, quacked, flapped its wings, and even ate and digested food. Vaucanson called this type of automaton “moving anatomy”. Joseph Jacquard made an automated loom that functions using punched cards in 1801. The importance of this is that punched cards were how computers operated during the early 20th century. As I said before, robotics may seem modern, but its roots are really in the ancient times.

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Now we visit the modern part of robotics. In 1966, the Stanford Research Institute created the first robot to know and react to actions. It was named Shaky. In 1969, a Mechanical Engineering student named Victor Scheinman working in the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Lab created the Stanford arm, which becomes the model for the new mechanical arms coming out today. LEGO releases its Mindstorms program in 1998, which is a programmable robot that can be built out of LEGOs. The modern part of robotics are still developing, and becoming more and more advanced.

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Programming Robots


In robotics, a motor can be programmed to perform different functions such as moving forwards, moving backwards, turning right, turning left, or stopping completely. Motors can also be used to turn moving parts on a robot. Motors were used on all the rovers that have landed on Mars, and used motors to move the parts to pick up samples of the soil. At home, most mechanical movement are generated by motors. Anything from cars to automatic doors to fans use motors to operate the moving parts. These are the uses and functions of motors.

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In robotics, sensors can be just as important as the motors can. Sensors can be programmed to make the motors move in one of the specified ways above one the sensor detects a certain thing. There are four different types of sensors: sound sensor, ultrasonic sensor, light sensor, and touch sensor. The sound sensor can be programmed to make the motors do a specific action when the sound gets to a certain level. The ultrasonic sensor will tell the motors to do a specific action when it senses the distance between an object in front of it and the sensor. It can do this by sending out a sound a higher pitch than a human can hear, and senses the sound waves rebounding back to it. The light sensor will tell the motors to do a specific action when it senses a certain amount of reflected light. The light sensor is pointed down, and senses the light reflected from the colors. The touch sensor tells the motors to do a specific action when the pressure plate is pushed down on the sensor. These are the uses and functions of sensors.

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Life on Mars


In order to determine whether something is living or not, it must contain a few characteristics in order for it to be classified as living. One characteristic it must have is that it must be composed of cells. The fundamental units of living things are cells. Cells have many parts called organelles. There are many different types of cells. They are animal cells, plant cells, and bacteria cells. Cells are usually organized to construct something bigger. Cells make up tissues, which make up organs, which make up organ systems, which make up organisms. Living things also need materials. All living things need water, minerals, vitamins, air, and sugar. They take what they need from the environment around them. Another characteristic of a living thing is that they are homeostatic. That means internally, the living thing stays the same despite what is happening around them. Living things expend a great deal of energy trying to maintain homeostasis, which means using up lots of energy trying to keep everything the same inside. Living things also respond to stimuli. Stimulus is anything that causes a living thing to react. Response is the reaction to a stimulus. There are two types of responses. There is a positive response, which means the living thing moves toward the stimulus. There is also a negative response, which means the living thing moves away from the stimulus. Another characteristic of a living thing is that they reproduce. Reproduction is the process in which organisms make offspring of their own kind. Plants and animals reproduce in a variety of different ways. There is sexual reproduction, when two plants or animals reproduce. There is also asexual reproduction, when one plant or animal reproduces. All living things also grow. All things develop from a simpler or lower form to a higher or more complex form. The human stages of growing are from embryo to newborn to child to adolescent to adult. Even though all living things grow, not all living things grow at the same rate or reach the same size. Another trait of a living thing is that they adapt according to their environment. When living things adapt, they make modifications that better suit it to its way of life. The long-term effect on the species is called evolution. Respiration is a trait that all living things have. Respiration is releasing energy stored in the chemical bonds of sugars, or food. There are two different types of respiration; consumption and production. Consumers are organisms that must take in food to sustain life. Producers create their own food.

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By looking at these different characteristics, we can find out whether objects on other planets are alive, dead, or nonliving. One method of trying to find life on other planets is to sift through a sample of an asteroid that originally came from Mars, and search for objects that fulfill all eight characteristics of life. Another method is having a rover land on Mars, and search all over the surface of the planet for life. A third method for finding life on Mars is having a rover with a drill attachment, so it can go underneath the Martian soil, and search for the eight characteristics of life.


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