As two NASA astronauts ventured out of the International Space Station for an historic all-female spacewalk, a group of girls from Waltrip High School was the first to remotely navigate a prototype Mars Rover on Friday through the rocky terrain at the Canadian Space Agency’s (CSA) Mars Yard.
The nine female students made up teams Five Amigas and Mission Explorers, which were two of the five teams at Waltrip that took part in Mission Control Academy’s Mars rover training exercise. The students controlled the rover prototype located in the province of Quebec at a facility where terrain conditions resemble those on Mars.
“It is really cool,” sophomore Julyssa Godina said. “It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
The HISD campus, along with a high school in Ottawa, Canada, was selected as a Mission Control Academy campus by Mission Control Space Services, Inc. Waltrip was the only campus in U.S. selected for the program and was chosen because of its Geographic Information Systems (GIS) magnet program and its partnership with Texas A&M University researchers.
“I am excited; we have a great group of students,” Ruby Blackmon, Waltrip’s GIS Magnet Instructor, said. “They are actually helping Texas A&M researchers map out a path for the rover that will launch next summer.”
Each year, the Canadian company selects schools for two-week science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education and training programs led by experts from the space industry, NASA and research universities. The culmination of the program is the remote rover exercise.
“This has been a great opportunity to get students interested in the field of science,” Blackmon said. “It is a great way for them to learn about the different STEM careers they can have.”
To learn more about Waltrip’s GIS magnet program, visit https://www.houstonisd.org/Page/55646.