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ERC Mars rovers competition kicks off in Kielce

Nearly 40 teams from over a dozen countries around the world compete in the European Rover Challenge (ERC) competition in Kielce, southern Poland. The seventh edition of the largest robotics and space event in Europe is held on the campus of the Kielce University of Technology.

The competition started on Friday. Łukasz Wilczyński, the head of the European Space Foundation, announced that the teams would compete in two formulas – stationary and remote. They will compete on a specially prepared track inspired by a fragment of the volcanic plain of Mars, called Elysium Planitia.

“The Martian track represents the volcanic surface this year. We have volcanoes, solid lava flows, this is very difficult terrain,” he noted.

17 teams take part in the competition in the stationary, and 20 in the remote formula. The teams that could not come to Kielce will perform the tasks from anywhere in the world using the “Leo Rover” vehicle.

The second part of the event are lectures and workshops in the “Inspiration Zone”. Among the speakers are Robert Cabana, NASA’s deputy head, and Dr Tanya Harrison, who during 13 years of work at NASA was the first person in the world to receive and analyse thousands of photos sent by Mars rovers.

Experts will also present information about Mars and plans for manned missions to the Red Planet, and will tell about the commercialisation of the space sector.

This year’s edition of the event will end with talks on the use of space technologies on Earth and the successes of Polish and foreign companies in this field.

“We are glad that we can be a partner of such an event that is taking place in Kielce. We are also starting preparations to organise another edition in our city next year,” Bogdan Wenta, the Mayor of Kielce, stressed.

The European Rover Challenge is the largest space event in Europe combining the international competition of Mars rovers with scientific and technological shows. The project is co-financed by the “Social Responsibility of Science” programme of the Minister of Education and Science. The event is co-organised by the European Space Foundation, the “Starachowice” Special Economic Zone, Świętokrzyskie province and the Kielce University of Technology.


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