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Congratulations to UKURC Teams

The dust (the sand!) has settled on the first ever UK rover challenge, with teams from 4 continents travelling to Manchester to take part.

In what was an incredible weekend, an incredibly positive atmosphere saw competing teams, the UKURC staff and volunteers working together to produce an incredible event, seen by many people in Manchester. With scorching sunshine on Saturday, and patches of rain on Sunday (of course, it’s Manchester) the teams worked hard, and the eventual outcome was a winner – the team from Egypt.

The top 3 were:

Egypt winners
1st place – The Elite, Misr University for Science and Technology, Egypt
Gdansk 2nd
2nd place – Nex Robotics from Gdansk University of Technology, Poland
Warsaw 3rd
3rd place – The University of Warsaw Rover Team, Uniwersytet Warszawski, Poland

All teams did incredible things, and deserve a mention. The first UK team to enter a rover challenge, the team from the University of Western England, the Canadian team from Carleton University who produced a beautiful rover, and infected everyone with their positive team spirit, and a young man who impressed everyone from Amrita University in India, Aditya Pattiyeri. Aditya was the only member of his team able to travel due to problems getting visas. He worked extremely hard, and with a great rover, he did amazing things. Impressing everyone with his attitude and results, a prize was created to reflect this, the ‘Mark Watney’ prize – because he was ALL ALONE…it is hoped that this prize may be kept to reflect a special individual contribution during the competition in future years.

The future for UKURC looks bright, with praise and enthusiasm from all quarters, and already with offers from other cities and institutions to host the competition in the future. The team who produced UKURC would like to thank everyone involved, and consider 2016 a ‘proof of concept’ for this competition which we hope will go from strength to strength.

We’d also like to thank:

ESOF, Starchaser Industries, Marsonauts and Lucinda Offer, Kevin Sloan and URC, Cemex – Margot and James, Space Genesis, Manchester City Council, Airbus Defence and Space, SpaceUp Manchester, helpers from Imperial College London, Roz Hughes PR, That’s Manchester TV, BBC Radio Manchester, and all the helpers and teams, and for everyone who came to watch. THANK YOU! See you next time…

Cemex to supply Mars sand


Our thanks to British company Cemex for supplying the UKURC rover competition with the sand required in order to make our Mars Yard.

It’s going to not just be a UK first, but it may well be a world first where a rover competition has been held in the centre of a big city – in our case, Manchester, and during a major science festival too.

Cemex are providing several tonnes of sand for us to create the areas required for our Mars yard – we don’t want to give away too much here, you’ll have to come along and see the site for yourself July 23-24, Cathedral Gardens Manchester, M4 3BG.

See our eventbrite here 

Volunteer Meeting

Come along and meet us and find out about volunteering! We’re having a get-together on July 12th in Manchester’s city centre – feel free to come along and find out more, or just meet us and find out about the Mars Society – there’s no obligation to do anything by coming along!

July 12, 6.30pm. Venue is The Rise

There’s a Facebook Event for it here

Also on MeetUp

Teams Confirmed

ROV SO HARDThe UKURC is pleased to announce the teams that will be taking part in the first ever UK University Rover Challenge, which takes place July 23-24 in Manchester.

“The UK challenge is unique, in that it’s an outdoor event in the centre of a large city, taking over a busy public space” explains UKURC Director, Rob Adlard.

Cathedral Gardens Layout“In order to raise the profile of this area of robotics, the Mars Society, and space exploration in general, we decided to create this particular format for our competition. We hope it will provide a great event for competitors and spectators, especially as it takes place as an official part of the European City of Science 2016, and part of European Science conference ESOF.”

ESOF is the European Science Open Forum This is a major international science conference, with thousands of delegates from all around the world visiting the city during the same weekend that UKURC is taking place.

The Final List of Competitors:

  • University of Western England, UK
  • Carleton University, Canada
  • Amrita University, India
  • Gdansk University, Poland
  • Warsaw University, Poland
  • Misr University for Science and Technology, Egypt
  • Pokhara University, Nepal
  • United International University, Bangladesh
  • BUBT, University of Business and Technology, Bangladesh
  • BRAC, Bangladesh
  • Chittagong University of Engineering and Technology, Bangladesh
  • Dhaka University of Engineering and Technology (DUET), Bangladesh
  • University of Texas, as Arlington, USA (Reserve – may not attend)

Partly due to the unusual location and format, the field of teams is smaller than the US competition, but it does include an excellent spread of teams from different geographical locations – perhaps the most diverse of any similar competition, and for the first time ever a UK entrant to a Mars Society rover competition; the University of Western England. Based in Bristol, the UWE team leader is MSc robotics student, Alex Thompson. It doesn’t seem like they’ll let the burden of expectation weigh on them “We’re really are happy to be a part of this competition, and just excited about the challenges it will present” says Alex.

Mars Society US Executive Director, Lucinda Offer adds: “It’s a really positive thing to see the first UK team taking part in a challenge such as this, and we hope that next year other universities will be inspired by the UK trailblazers, UWE led by Alex.”

The UKURC is to help the excellent work going on in UK universities to connect up with the passion and excitement that space exploration has to offer. Students in the UK can have every expectation of being as involved in that career path as students from any other country, if not more so, and we hope this is the beginning of something big.

Watch this space!

UKURC Deadline Approaches

An Airbus Exomars rover prototype. Credit: Airbus Space and Defence UK

The first UK University Rover Challenge is shaping up into a unique event, taking place in Manchester July 23-24 during the ESOF conference as part of Manchester’s role as European City of Science 2016. The 2016 American version of this competition had in the region of 70 entries from around the world (none from the UK) with only the capacity to take 30 teams, so this kind of project is in demand.

The Mars Society is now confirming a deadline of April 15th for teams to complete the simple entry procedure which can be found here

A Starchaser rocket

The UK challenge will be taking place in one of Manchester’s most interesting public squares, with a purpose build temporary ‘Mars Yard’ on the undulating Cathedral Gardens next to the National Football Museum. There will also be exhibitors supporting the event, among them Airbus Defence and Space UK, and Manchester’s Starchaser Industries. Airbus are making the hardware for the European Space Agency’s Exomars missions, developing the first European rover to go to Mars – a direct industry link with the

lift off 5
A Starchaser rocket. Starchaser are supporters of the Mars Society helped fund the Mars Soceity’s Arctic research station

competition. Starchaser Industries will have information on their commercial spaceflight program, and display which will include  an 11m tall rocket.

“We’ve had a lot of interest from overseas universities, from the USA, India, Asia and Europe, but we still want to hear from UK universities who just have time to get involved in this amazing opportunity” says UKURC Director Rob Adlard.

Visit for more information, and visit for the USA’s successful university rover challenge.

Build your Mars rover!

URC 2015 BYU student team
A team with their rover at the US competition in Utah

This week the Mars Society in the UK has launched the first ever UK rover challenge. The UK University Rover Challenge is a mirror of a successful event in the USA that has seen involvement in robotic rovers soar, with the US competition receiving over 60 entries from universities from all over the world – but never from the UK.

“I’d noticed that, and just thought with all the excellent things going on in UK universities it seemed like such a shame, and in establishing a chapter of the Mars Society in the UK we could do something about that” explains the chair of the Mars Society UK, and director of the UKURC, Rob Adlard.

Perhaps university students in the UK just felt that rovers on Mars was too far divorced from reality, their experience, and what may be required of them when they graduate? This was also something that troubled UKURC founder Rob

“The first European rover to be sent to Mars is being built and tested right now, right here in the UK by a UK company, how you have something more relevant than that? British engineers working on a rover that will land on Mars.”

Rob explains that the European Space Agency Exomars mission will take a European rover to Mars for the first time, and that Airbus Space and Defence is building it here in the UK at their Mars Yard. In addition to that, a perk of entering the competition will be a visit for the competing teams to the Airbus facility to have a presentation from the rover engineers on the Exomars rover, and find out more about what’s actually happening in the industry here in the UK.

Below:  video from the US version of the competition

It’s exciting times for Mars exploration if you’re in the UK (or anywhere in Europe) so if you, or anyone you know are interested, we urge them to visit out website and enter. All you need are a few like-minded friends, and you’ll probably get support from your university. With the number of simple electronics platforms readily available now, you don’t even need specialist knowledge to get started, so get started today!

UK Rover Challenge is Coming

The Rover Challenge is something that the Mars Society has been running for a decade on two continents, but as yet no UK universities take part. This UK Chapter of the Mars Society aims to change that by developing a UK Rover Challenge, which we hope will provide a platform for students to develop their skills, and go on to achieve great things.

“When Airbus is developing the Mars rover for the European Space Agency right here in the UK, but none of our universities have been engaged with the Rover challenge, I knew that we needed to try to bring this to the UK” explains chairman Rob Adlard.

“We’re hoping that in collaboration with partners such as European City of Science and Marketing Manchester, that we can bring the UK Rover Challenge to Manchester for 2016.”

Take a look at this video to see highlights of the US 2015 Rover Challenge

Mars Soc Manchester on TV again

One last interview given by Lucinda Offer during her visit to Manchester yielded a feature on That’s Manchester TV, on their headline news section.

Mars Manchester is hot news

Lucinda Offer and Rob Adlard (new chair of the Manchester chapter) at the BBC Media City
Lucinda Offer and Rob Adlard (new chair of the Manchester chapter) at the BBC Media City

It’s been a busy few days for the new society, greatly aided by the visit to our city by Lucinda Offer, the Executive Director of the Mars Society USA. Lucinda worked extremely hard on her visit, not only taking time to learn about our great city’s heritage when it comes to science and innovation, but carrying out a busy round of interviews on TV, Radio and with print media.


Lucinda Offer ready to speak with the BBC's Roger Johnson
Lucinda Offer ready to speak with the BBC’s Roger Johnson. The inevitability of Mars being in the news was partly luck, and partly our chosen time to launch the society.


The inevitability of Mars in the news was a calculation in the launching of this chapter in Manchester. We chose the close proximity in time to The Martian Movie, and Buzz Aldrin’s world tour (speaking about Mars). Other developments that occurred which we could not have predicted were things like the water on mars announcement by NASA, and the subsequent announcements by NASA about updates to their Journey To Mars.



On Friday, the new Chairman (and co founder) of the Manchester Chapter, Rob Adlard, spoke on BBC radio with Andy Crane. Sunday then saw Lucinda appear on BBC national TV, Breakfast news TWICE – possibly the first time the Mars Society has been national news in the UK!

Lucinda also appeared on That’s Manchester TV, and was interviewed by Mancunian Matters with an article to appear shortly. Finally, Lucinda and Rob both appeared on BBC Radio Manchester, staying in the studio for at least on hour speaking repeatedly in between other segments in the show.

“I loved how those guys operate, so slick, so entertaining” said Lucinda Offer “it was an absolute pleasure to visit the BBC in Media City”.

It’s a good start for the new chapter, and I believe the organisation as a whole has huge untapped potential in the UK. Manchester has a heritage with science and engineering that spans a great depth of scientific discovery and endeavour; from Rutherford splitting the atom in Manchester, the development of the first computer, in fact Manchester’s very creation as a city was because of the revolution in the development , organisation, and application of scientific discoveries in a way that affected commerce, trade, society and our personal lives – the first modern industrial scientific city. That’s the spirit of can-do, of change and evolution that we’d like to embody, and to engage and inspire people from everywhere, not just Manchester – Manchester is just our base.

We’re very optimistic about what’s going to happen, with the people already involved I’m sure we’re going to achieve a great deal.  However, once we really get going with new intake of talent and enthusiasm that I’m sure is out there, I’d like to see the Manchester chapter being one of the most successful and dynamic in the world. The future is ours to make.


Rob Adlard, Chairman of the Mars Society Manchester Chapter.

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