Michigan Mars Rover Team

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Michigan Mars Rover Team
Formation March 1, 2000; 15 years ago (2000-03-01)
Type University Sponsored Student Organization
Headquarters University of Michigan
Leader Scott Briggs
Parent organization
University of Michigan College of Engineering
Website www.umrover.org

The Michigan Mars Rover team (MRover) is a student-run, multidisciplinary organization whose mission is to design, build, and test a rover for the exploration of extraterrestrial environments and to assist astronauts on a mission to Mars. MRover is a competition oriented team whose goal is to win the University Rover Challenge that takes place every year at NASA's Mars Desert Research Station near Hanksville, Utah. Additionally the team hosts educational outreach events for students of all ages, with their largest and most unique outreach event being the Mars Rover High School Contest. MRover is a unique opportunity for University of Michigan students to learn more about multidisciplinary engineering and space exploration.

Team history[edit]

The creation of the team was inspired by a call for designs of a pressurized Mars rover by the Mars Society. The group started a team led by and made up of students from the University of Michigan. Most of the students are undergraduates in engineering and all volunteer their time to work on the project. Several teams around the country competed for the chance to win $10,000 and begin construction of their design. The team from the University of Michigan won this competition and quickly began planning how to build their first prototype called Olympus.

The Olympus Prototype

Using a simple mock-up made of plywood and cardboard they were able to make some initial design decisions about the size and layout of the interior. They also continued to work on theoretical research to determine how their layout would fit with the design requirements of future rover prototypes.

The next stage of the project was to create the first full-scale prototype rover, Everest. The rover was based on an FMTV, donated by the US Army TACOM. The FMTV was a four-wheel drive flatbed cargo truck. The team removed the flatbed and added the living cabin onto the frame rails. This vehicle has gone through several iterations of interior design, increasing in fidelity each time.

After construction of Everest was completed in the summer of 2003, they took it to the Mars Desert Research Station in Utah where it was used in mission simulations and experiments to determine how people will live on and explore Mars. They also took Everest to many events and local schools where they were able to show the rover to students.

The team has continued to work by focusing its efforts to semester-long projects. Each semester a group of students work to design a specific subsystem of the rover such as the airlock, sample storage system, or fuel tanks. They are required to research the subsystem, create a design, and submit a design proposal to a review committee. If they pass the review, they are given funds to create a prototype of the design that will be presented at the end of the semester.

Team leaders[edit]

  • President: Scott Briggs (BSE Mechanical Engineering)
  • Vice President: Nicholas Wurtz (BSE Mechanical Engineering)
  • Chief Engineer: Joseph Yanos (BSE Mechanical Engineering)
  • Treasurer: Samuel Rumack (BSE Mechanical Engineering)
  • Information Systems Officer: Connor Krupp (BSE Computer Science)


In 2005 the Michigan Mars Rover Team participated in the Revolutionary Aerospace Systems Concepts - Academic Linkage (RASC-AL) Forum conducted in Cocoa Beach, FL on May 22-May 25 and won the second place in the undergraduate category.

In 2012, after only two years of participation, the team placed fourth in the University Rover Challenge.

External links[edit]