NASA's Lunar Rover dazzles students

April 29, 2009 4:37:45 PM PDT
Students at a Houston-area elementary school had a visitor that could soon be out of this world. [SIGN UP: Get headlines and breaking news sent to you]

NASA's Lunar Rover stopped by St. Thomas the Apostle Episcopal School in Nassau Bay Wednesday to bring the students' studies to life. The pressurized vehicle called "The Chariot" has a cabin that astronauts could theoretically live in for up to two weeks at a time while conducting research on the moon's surface.

"We really think hard about things being redundant, so that if something breaks another system can take over," NASA's Lucien Junkin told the students.

The rover was a big hit among the kids who especially liked the spacesuit mounted on the vehicle. Designed to let astronauts slip into it quickly, the suit would stop crews from having to endure hours of pressurization first.

"I think this is really cool how NASA can build something like this," said student Ian Graham.

This space project mirrors the science and engineering lessons the students have been learning on a smaller scale. A team of students studying electronics at St Thomas built a Lego vehicle that competed in a national competition this month in Atlanta. So NASA's project, while truly out of this world, couldn't be closer to home. A fact not lost on the students' teacher.

"I think they get the bug for engineering and problem solving at this level and that will translate hopefully someday into a project like that," said teacher Priscilla Magnuson.

In a time when science, math and engineering studies are lacking in American schools, the hope is this real life lesson will inspire the students to help build the future of NASA's fleet.

The Lunar Rover will go to the moon in 2020 when astronauts travel there for new research projects.

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