NASA Rover Challenge returns to the Rocket City, brings a space-like experience

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - The NASA Human Exploration Rover Challenge will return to Huntsville this year, welcoming teams from all over the world.

Teams must build a human-powered rover and drive it over space-simulated terrain.

"This challenge has been going on for about 24 years," said project manager Diedra Williams. "It started out as the 'NASA Great Moon Buggy' race and it is now the Human Exploration Rover Challenge because we now have a mission to Mars."

Teams will come from all over the world -- Germany, India and Peru to name a few.

They will race in a two-day competition winning prizes in both the high school and college division.

"When they come here this will test their engineering, design, research and development skills," said Williams.

Miranda Shook is part of a team from Indiana. Her school is the only high school in the state to participate in the challenge.

"We have a PLTW [Project Lead The Way] program which has engineering classes, but this specifically is an after-school program," said Shook.

Comprised of nine members, they spent the last year working at least three hours a week to fine-tune their rover.

"On ours, we have a lot of suspension things and that's very applicable to the actual cars, so you get to learn about space and what you might be seeing out there," said Shook.

She says her team drove more than 400 miles and eight hours to compete in Huntsville.

You can find more information on the Rover Challenge here. If you'd like to attend the competition, races will run from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday, March 31 and Saturday, April 1.  The cost is regular U.S. Space and Rocket Center admission.