OSU Mars Rover drives over entire Beaver football team.
Wednesday morning, just after 7 a.m., the Oregon State University football team lay across the floors of the Merritt Truax Indoor Center. They were waiting for the OSU Mars Rover to drive over them.
In preparation, the football team lay side-by-side on their stomachs so the rover would have a clear path down the indoor field. As the rover went over team members, they got up and ran to the end of the line so the rover would have a human path across the entire field.
“Actually, it was pretty comfortable,” said Malik Gilmore, a sophomore wide receiver who is studying business and marketing. “The wheels are nice and soft and everything, but it was fun, it was definitely fun.”
The event was a break from daily routines.
The curious occurrence brought together two dissimilar teams, pairing the OSU Beavers football team and the OSU Mars Rover team.
“Our goal is just to show that science and football and athletics can work together,” said Virginia Tat, a sophomore on the Mars Rover team. “We did this a couple years ago, about three years ago, and we just wanted to do it again.”
Hilary O’Bryan, assistant director for operations for the football team, said they were excited to be contacted by Tat, who initiated the correspondence.
“We had done it in the past and thought it was a great experience for our players,” O’Bryan said. “It’s really cool to see what the Mars Rover team is doing and coach Riley thought it’d be a lot of fun to do it again ... it was a lot of fun for the players.”
The Mars Rover team creates functioning replicas of robots that have actually traveled to Mars and then competes against other universities in national competitions.
Since 2008, the OSU team has consistently placed in the top five for the University Rover Challenge, hosted by the Mars Society.
This year, the team will participate in the Sample Return Robot Challenge, sponsored by NASA and the Worcester Polytechnic Institute.
Jackson Minear, a fifth-year senior and member of the Mars Rover team, said that teaming up with the football team can help shed light on the rover team’s work and accomplishments.
“(It will) help increase our awareness and make everybody see the rover,” Minear said. “When I first got here, five years ago, it was really popular and well-known. ... We really are trying to help increase our awareness so we can increase our sponsorship.”