CORVALLIS, Ore. - The Mars Rover Team from Oregon State University won another national competition last week at the fourth annual University Rover Challenge in the deserts of Utah.

This is the second first place showing in three years for the team, which is part of the OSU Robotics Club and supported by the Oregon NASA Space Grant Consortium. The team scored 315 out of a possible 400 points, far ahead of the next closest team which had 209 points.

"Most of this success can be attributed to months of preparation and practice for each event," said Ryan Albright, a member of the club. "The team has done an amazing job this year in accomplishing the goals of both the Robotics Club and the College of Engineering, which is to produce world-class engineering students."

On two of the four tasks that the robot had to complete, the OSU team was the only team to succeed. These included finding a "distressed astronaut" and plugging a 3-pronged power plug into a control panel, after flipping switches and pressing buttons in order. Other tasks included investigating sites that might have microbial life, returning a sample, and surveying landmarks of interest in a large area.

Driving the robot in the rugged, hot Utah desert added to the challenge, but the OSU machine had been coated with reflective material, making it relatively immune to temperatures that rose over 100 degrees.

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