NASA's Curiosity rover is daily astounding the folks of Earth with its exploits. But here on our planet, 15 teams of university scientists and engineers recently drove robotic rovers around a barren Martian-looking land west of the little town of Hanksville in Southern Utah.
They had descended upon the Mars Desert Research Station to compete in the 7th annual University Rover Challenge put on by the Mars Society, an organization that seeks to further study and advance science in the quest of sending humans to Mars.
From May 30 to June 1, teams from the United States, Canada, Poland, and India competed on several courses meant to test their rover's designs and technology in a quest for bragging rights and a winner-takes-all $5,000 cash prize. The challenges included navigating through gates over varied terrain, dropping science packages at designated sites, and excavating material that could be analyzed for signs of life.