Explomars: Middle school students make a robot to send to Mars!

As part of the Savanturiers de l’Ingénierie programme and sponsored by the real Exomars project, six engineers from Thales Alenia Space launched a challenge for three classes of 14-15 year olds. Using the Exomars mission as a starting point, they asked students to build a space exploration vehicle using precise, complex specifications – a real challenge!



Space exploration is a key issue for the future. To prepare the next generation of space engineers, six engineer mentors (see below) worked with Pierre Collet, a technology teacher at Mont Saint Jean middle school in Antibes, to develop the challenge using the Les Savanturiers method. Students will have eight months to build a rover similar to the one used in the Exomars 2020 mission, according to precise specifications. For example, the vehicle must be able to take photographs of its environment and send them back to base, take soil samples and land on an uneven surface from a launch pad 5 meters off the ground.


To meet these requirements, classes were divided into six groups based on the rover’s functions: sampling, landing, moving, autonomy, structure and photography. Each sponsor is responsible for a group and will guide its research, communicating via email or telephone at the start of each class to check on progress. For example, Clara, responsible for the landing group, explained to students that using helium balloons to land the robot would be too expansive and advised them to look into parachutes. Similarly, Raphael helped the photography group select the right camera.



On 31 May, students will be invited to the Cannes site to view models on display and demonstrate their prototype.


The Explomars project aims to introduce students to the joy of discovering new ideas and transmit a passion for invention and creativity. The new approach allows students to break free from a structured classroom setting and create hands-on connections between work and school. It helps them learn basic scientific principles by applying them to meaningful real-life projects.


Congratulations to the teams and thanks to Thales’s six volunteer mentors: Clara Falaschini, Eloi Klein, Marion Imbert, Raphael Boissonnade, Nicolas Sivera and Quentin Brilhaut.


Read the project blogs:
Les Savanturiers Mont-Saint-Jean blog
Explomars classroom blog


Do not hesitate to contact the Thales Foundation for more information: