The Challenger Learning Center offers a unique, hands-on learning experience designed to engage and increase student enthusiasm for science, mathematics, and technology and to enhance creative and critical thinking abilities. We offer several onsite mission scenarios—Rendezvous with a Comet, Return to the Moon, and Voyage to Mars, and our newest mission: Expedition Mars—each of which is determined on a yearly basis. Each mission is a two-hour learning adventure and is supplemented by an hour-long hands-on activity facilitated by our trained flight directors. Teachers who have booked a mission are offered a one-day teacher professional development workshop to help prepare them and their students for mission day.
The year is 2076. Humans have solved some of the larger problems associated with a long term Mars mission, including radiation exposure and landing large payloads safely on the surface. A handful of facilities have been established on the Martian surface including a Greenhouse, a mobile geo survey base, and a centralized research habitat, however the primary human habitat within the Mars system is located on its moon, Phobos. Our shuttle, or Mars Transport Vehicle (MTV), serves as the spacecraft for the mission carrying parts to build a ROV for hydrological exploration. When crew members discover a threat to their MTV base, they must act quickly to save their crew and their station while achieving three goals: to search for evidence of life on Mars, to search for evidence of water, and to keep everyone safe. Using teamwork and creative problem solving, the crew will be able to continue their research on our neighbor planet.
Rendezvous with a Comet®
In the not too distant future a team of scientists and engineers are on a daring mission to take an up-close look at a comet as it streaks its way across our solar system. Their goal is to plot a successful course to rendezvous with the comet and launch a probe to collect and return dust from the comet’s tail. What seems at first to be a routine exploration is filled with challenges and emergencies. Each obstacle that stands in the way of a successful mission requires students to work together as a team to find a solution.
Return to the Moon®
5-4-3-2-1 and liftoff aboard Eagle II. For the first time since 1972, a crew of astronauts is returning to the Moon—and this time they plan to stay! Their mission is to establish a permanent international base on the lunar surface for observation, exploration, and use as a stepping stone for future, manned missions. Leaving Earth’s orbit and navigating their way into lunar orbit, students must first retrieve a damaged probe and then build and launch a probe to send to the lunar surface. The crew members will have to function as a team as they begin a new era in human planetary explorations during their mission to “Return to the Moon.”
Voyage to Mars®
The voyage begins in the year 2076 with a new crew of astronauts enroute to Mars. Control of the incoming flight has been transferred from Houston’s Mission Control to Mars Control at the Chryse Station. The crew arriving from Earth on the Mars Transport Vehicle has been specially trained to replace the existing crew of astronauts, who have manned Mars Control for the past two years. After arriving on the Martian surface, the new crew will continue scientific exploration while gaining new insights into the problems NASA scientists face. This information is vital to scientists and explorers for a better understanding of the Red Planet.