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Activity overview

15 mins
Ages 7 – 9

Science topics:

Electricity

Take a closer look at this object. Will the class be able to work out what it is? You’ll be working your pupils' observation, reasoning and discussion skills.

Run the activity

You will be zooming in and out of the image above – starting very close and stepping back slowly.

1. Start by asking everyone:

  • What do they think the image is and why?
  • What does the image remind them of and why?

2. Every time you zoom out, ask the class:

  • Can they describe the colours, shapes and textures?
  • What do they think the image is now – have they changed their minds?

Background science

This is the European Space Agency’s (ESA) ExoMars rover, one of the many science experiments that have been sent to Mars to learn more about our nearest planetary neighbour. Mars rovers are remotely-controlled vehicles with onboard laboratories and cameras that travel across the planet’s surface collecting data from different locations. Mars rovers have many electrical circuits to make different parts of the experiments work.

The ESA ExoMars rover has circuits with motors to make the wheels move and power the onboard drill. It has circuits with heaters to survive the cold Martian nights and really complicated electric circuits that make up the onboard computer and communication system.

It uses solar panels to power these circuits so that it can make its own electricity from the Sun throughout its mission. Some Mars rovers have used batteries to provide energy for their circuits, but once the batteries have run out, the mission comes to an end.

 

The 2022 ExoMars mission is looking for signs of life on Mars. We've got lots of activities to support your own Mars exploration. Read more on our blog! 

Take it further

Check out ESA's collection of animations that feature the ESA Kid’s mascot, Paxi. In this video, Paxi visits Mars and has a problem with the circuits on his spaceship navigation system. While fixing the loose wire, one of the Mars rovers comes to say hello. Find out more about circuits with Electrifying metals or power sources with Battery bonanza! 

Challenge the class to design their own rovers with this Resilient rovers Problem solver activity. You could take some solar power inspiration from this What's going on activity. Mars Safari: work in teams to make a solar light that comes on at night and which signals when the ExoMars Rovers’ solar panels are too covered in Martian dust.