Valerie Varnuska resides in Westbury, NY, where she spends much of her time learning about science, technology, and the natural world. In recent years, Valerie Varnuska has developed an interest in robotics, especially robotics competitions.
In summer of 2016, NASA teamed up with Space Center Houston to create a new robotics competition. The Space Robotics Challenge, offering a $1 million prize, invites roboticists from all over the world to build humanoid robots to help humanity reach Mars.
Competing teams must program highly dexterous virtual robots, which will be expected to complete a specific series of tasks. In their virtual test, robots will be faced with a damaged colony following a dust storm. They will need to align a communications dish, fix a solar array, and patch a leak on the virtual colony. A latency period is crucial to their programming, representing the communication delay between Earth and Mars.
Practice rounds will run through June 2017, when the final competition begins. NASA and allied partners hope that the ideas presented will help them in their goal of bringing both robotic tools and human beings to Mars in the future.