U of S Space Team dis­cov­ers bones, Mid­land Pro­vin­cial Park

The Drumheller Mail - - NEWS - Terri Hux­ley The Drumheller Mail

While on the hunt for new Cana­dian In­ter­na­tional Rover Chal­lenge (CIRC) ter­ri­tory, the Uni­ver­sity of Saskatchewan Space De­sign Team came across di­nosaur bones in Mid­land Na­tional Park on June 1.

Con­ser­va­tion of­fi­cers from Al­berta Parks and palaeon­tol­o­gists from the Royal Tyrrell Mu­seum were on site as well when the team came across the unique finds.

“We ini­tially no­ticed a rock that looked sur­pris­ingly like a large thigh bone pro­trud­ing from the ground. It was en­cased in rock which was lighter than the sur­round­ing stones,” de­scribed Danno Peters, Uni­ver­sity of Saskatchewan Space De­sign Team cap­tain in an email in­ter­view.

Af­ter the group dis­cov­ered the bones and were con­firmed by the palaeon­tol­o­gists on site, they fur­ther ex­am­ined the area to find more bones in­clud­ing a piece of a jaw.

A few weeks later, they were given per­mis­sion to use the re­main­ing area of the site for the com­pe­ti­tion.

So far the ex­act species is un­known as the bones have not been ex­ca­vated from the ground but the di­nosaur they found is a Hadrosaurid, a duck-billed di­nosaur.

The great space that Drumheller had to of­fer was an ideal lo­ca­tion for the com­pe­ti­tion due to the min­i­mal veg­e­ta­tion, arid cli­mate, and chal­leng­ing ter­rain. The loose iron rich rock and sand of the bad­lands also closely re­sem­bles ter­rain found on Mars, which the stu­dents took ad­van­tage of.

“The ameni­ties in Drumheller and in­ter­na­tional air­ports in Ed­mon­ton and Cal­gary made host­ing in­ter­na­tional Mars Rover teams much easier than other, more iso­lated rover test­ing sites across North Amer­ica,” said Peters.

For the com­pe­ti­tion, the Uni­ver­sity of Saskatchewan Space Team won first place by a very nar­row mar­gin of 0.14 per cent over the Car­leton Plan­e­tary Ro­bot­ics Team.

Teams were in­vited from across North Amer­ica to at­tend and bring their own Mars Rover pro­to­types and since it was so suc­cess­ful, the USST plan to re­turn for next year.

“The com­pe­ti­tion was a great suc­cess and plans have al­ready been started for the next Cana­dian In­ter­na­tional Rover Chal­lenge in 2018!” said Peters.

“As a part of the 2018 CIRC eval­u­a­tion, new and larger sites around Drumheller are be­ing eval­u­ated in or­der to al­low a greater num­ber of rovers from across the world to par­tic­i­pate. In ad­di­tion, we are look­ing to find more chal­leng­ing ter­rain to push the lim­its of the rovers and their de­sign­ers.”

If any landown­ers in the Drumheller area are in­ter­ested in al­low­ing rover test­ing on their prop­erty, please con­tact CIRC@usst.ca as the land could be part of next year’s chal­lenge!

photo cour­tesy of Danno Peters

Group photo of the Cana­dian In­ter­na­tional Rover Chal­lenge (CIRC) par­tic­i­pants, rovers, and vol­un­teers cap­tured us­ing an Un­manned Aerial Ve­hi­cle (Drone - UAV) at McMullen Is­land on July 10.

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