Mars Yard

Synergy with Native American Robotics Mars Yard

NASA is funding an educational initiative to encourage students to engage in STEM education. Employment opportunities in rural areas are very sparse. To prepare students for engaging in opportunities accessible through use of the internet, STEM programs are being taught. STEM is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. More recently the effort has been to produce STEAM, or Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics.

The Robotics Mars Yard is in a building with dimensions of 50 feet by 60 feet that will house an automated system of robots and a self-configuring landscape to be used by Native American students throughout the United States. Simulators are to be built to allow most students, anywhere globally, to participate in related activities. Coursework already in use by teachers are intended to be modified to provide greater contact time with each student, and, at the same time, free instructor time so that they have more time to thoughtfully interact with the unique needs of each student.

The broad use of the Mars Yard is centered in its user interface that matches form and function of most programming user interfaces. Students are able to engage programming beginning as early as Elementary School and use the system throughout Post-Doctoral industry and related research efforts, developing the ability to engage diverse related technologies followed by developing the ability to produce market driven enterprise.

Contributors include Dr. Nader Vadiee (, Dr. Larry Crumpler (NM Museum Curator).

SIPI's Mars Yard can be accessed remotely anywhere in the world through an easy to access webpage. There are currently two active yards the simulated Mars Yard and the real Mars Yard.

Simulated Mars Yard

The newest addition to the Mars yards is a completely virtual Mars yard. As it is still a work in progress, the virtual rovers don't have all the capabilities of their real-world counterparts. The program used to create the virtual environment is Gazebo. The simulated Mars Yard uses the same interface as the real Mars Yard and will be able to host the same mission as the real yard. This simulation will be used as an introductory tool for new students to learn the interface and become familiar with the rovers.

The Large Mars Yard

This ambitious project aims to recreate a Martian environment for teleoperated robots to explore and perform educational missions. The rovers in the Mars Yard will have either a drill or scoop attachment meant to perform different functions during missions.

Visit to view the website developed by SIPI.