Press Releases

Launch of the "UK Mars Station Network" – University of Reading

Release Date : 10 March 2004

The "UK Mars Station Network" will be launched at the University of Reading on Wednesday 17 March, during National Science Week. The Mars Station concept was developed by the Planetary Society to give everyone - school children and general members of the public alike - the experience of actively exploring an unknown, remote environment via the Internet. A Mars Station comprises a physical simulation of a specific geographical area of Mars. Local and online visitors can explore the simulated Mars landscape by driving a virtual Red Rover around the terrain, while an on-board camera allows them to "see through the eyes of the rover". Visitors to the Mars Station can also be set challenges, such as discovering certain types of rock, retrieving samples, or performing a safe traverse across the terrain. The University of Reading's Red Rover is expected to "land" at the beginning of National Science week (12th -21st March). You can monitor its progress and participate in activities, including a competition to name the rover, at our Web site: During National Science Week, visitors to Reading will be able to join online users to remotely control the Red Rover. One lucky visitor will be able to drive the Rover off its pad onto the "Martian Surface". This is scheduled to happen at 12 noon on the 17th March 2004. Other students visiting The University during National Science Week, will get the opportunity to build their own martian landers as part of the 'sciborgs' activity – which allows students from year 7 to 13 to get their hands on high-tech design software and hardware. The UK Mars Station network, comprising Mars Stations at the University of Reading, The National Space Centre (Leicester) and the Glasgow Science Centre, contributes to an international effort, spearheaded by the Planetary Society (, to establish a global network of Mars Stations on Earth. The development of the UK Mars Station Network is funded by Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council (PPARC) under its Public Understanding of Science Small Awards Scheme. End For further information, please contact Gerard McKee at the University of Reading on 0118 378 8609 or email: Notes for editors The 'sciborgs' event is just one of a series of activities for school students being organised by the Widening Participation Office at the University of Reading during National Science Week. Other highlights include: • University School Science Challenge: schools compete in a University Challenge style quiz for the chance to win a piece of scientific equipment up to the value of £250. • Mathsmagicians: Sir Mathsalot and Queen and Princess Countalot show off their fantastic magic maths number tricks. • The Science of Slime: students get sticky and find out how to make multi-coloured slime and potty putty. • DNA Detectives: a crime is simulated and students have to work out 'whodunnit' by processing real DNA from the scene of the 'crime'. • Turbo Power/Little big things: using the universities electrom microscopes and turbine jet engine, students get the chance to experience and find out how some high tech scientific works. • Science Olympics: a series of mini scientific investigations/challenges allowing students to use their problem solving and team work skills to stand a chance of winning a gold, silver and bronze medal. • Chemistry masterclass: A-level students learn more about spectroscopy and use the hi-tec equipment at the university to support them in their school curriculum. • Microbiology masterclass: investigations into what part microbes play in our everyday lives, aimed at supporting biology students undertaking their sixth form studies at school.


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