Mars Rovers Storytelling

KiwiMars Storytelling

Eagle Technology hosts, updates maps and information from the KiwiMars expedition, deep in the Utah (USA) desert

WELLINGTON - 30 March, 2012 - Six New Zealand ‘Martianauts’, to be based at the remote MDRS (Mars Desert Research Station) facility in Utah, USA during April / May, will be bringing Mars closer to New Zealand school children, thanks to interactive online mapping provided by Eagle Technology, New Zealand’s leading GIS (Geographic Information Systems) solution provider.

Eagle Technology will be using state-of-the art mapping software to display images and text-based commentary overlaid on top of high resolution aerial imagery in near real time. These maps will be available online to the public at

“The maps will help students think beyond Planet Earth and interest them in geology,” says Martianaut Ali Harley. “The MDRS site in Utah is a spectacular analogue for Mars due to the dry desert climate, the landforms, e.g. glacial, volcanic, the caves, channels, craters and dunes. We will be using simulation resources - including mapping - that illustrate some of the known geological similarities between Planet Earth and Planet Mars, e.g. land features, how they formed and what rocks and minerals are present in them.”

The project will provide school kids (whose own children may be the generation that travels to Mars) with the opportunity to (virtually) see, touch, smell, taste and ‘hear’ Mars geology. 

The Martianauts will simulate an expedition to Mars by wearing spacesuits whenever they emerge from the habitat and roam the desiccated landscape in specially-modified four-wheel drive vehicles. As they explore the landscape and geology, they will use digital images to record their observations.

“They will capture the exact coordinates of the images using hand-held GPS devices,” says Claire Thurlow, GIS Training and Education Manager at Eagle Technology and mapping coordinator for the project. “They will also provide textual commentary, again linked to location. They will transmit this data to us via satellite and we will update the GIS layers - which include high resolution aerial images provided by the US Department of Agriculture: Farm Service Agency - in near real time. We will then collate this information together and place the resulting interactive maps online on the KiwiSpace web site.”  Eagle Technology is the official distributor of ArcGIS in New Zealand.

The KiwiMars crew will travel to Utah starting Mission 118 on 22 April 2012 and finish on 6 May. The crew will perform a range of experiments and exercises related to their areas of expertise or interest. On their return more development work will be undertaken to compare and correlate information collected from Mars to the data collected on the simulation expedition to Utah. Ideally, science students in NZ will be encouraged to identify sites in New Zealand with similar characteristics.

About Eagle Technology

Eagle Technology Group is a privately-held New Zealand-owned systems integration and information management company. Founded in 1969 by Trevor and Corallie Eagle, Eagle Technology Group today has more than 90 employees with offices in Auckland and Wellington.

With a market-leading line-up of hardware and software partners and a highly-skilled staff of technical specialists and consultants, Eagle has the resources, talent, experience and passion to provide total support for organisations in all aspects of IT. Eagle's business capabilities include GIS, data insurance, systems integration and facilities management.

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