Today, I signed up to play with, ah, I mean, not play exactly, um....work with the rover robots. It was very enjoyable. We learned the systems for how to interface a remote operating computer so that we could drive the robot by simply looking at a screen which let us see what the robot could "see" with the cameras mounted where its eyes would be.
I actually drove the rover for about 20 minutes during an interview with the lead scientist. My job was to keep the robot in the background of the camera. It was a very fun 20 minutes. They conducted the interview on a dry lake bed so the experience was much like being on the moon.
What I want you to do today is to think of reasons why NASA is still working on robots. Since they have had such great success with the Mars rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, why are they still trying new things with robots. Try to think of it this way; if you were a NASA scientist, what things would you want a robot to do that humans cannot do?
Make a list of jobs robots could do on the moon or on Mars. Beside each job, maybe in a table, draw or describe what the robot would look like to do each job. Then tell why the robot should do that job instead of an astronaut. Be creative!
For some ideas, do a google search of 'robots in space' or 'NASA robots' to see what you find.
Have some fun with this one.