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Science Plan

Science Plan

Teams shall submit a Science Plan prior to the URC2018 field competition.  Science Plan documents must be submitted no later than 11:59pm Mountain Daylight Time (MDT; UTC-6) on May 11, 2018.  Science plans must be submitted via an online form (the link to this form will be emailed to teams in April).

Format and Submission Details
Science Plans are limited to a total of 5 pages (not including cover page).  Pages should be in letterpaper size (8.5 in. x 11 in.), with margins no smaller than 1 in. (2.5 cm), text in Calibri 11 point font (or similarly sized font), and single spaced.  Electronic submissions are required in *.doc, *.docx or *.pdf (preferred) file formats.  Google Drive files (*.gdoc) are not allowed for submissions.

Science Plan Content
Cover Page:  The cover page shall identify the team name, point of contact, science sub-team members, and an organizational chart showing how the science sub-team interacted with the full team.

Basic knowledge about Mars (for example: geology, regolith chemistry pH, chemical composition, surface radiation flux and temperatures, why the surface is red, etc.). LIMIT 1 page.

What background work the team has done to generate their knowledge for the science task (articles read, experiments performed, collaborations established and experts consulted). LIMIT 1 page.

Description of the instruments, and methods, the team has chosen for “on board” rover experimentation at the site. Justification of the methods and the instrumentation should be included. LIMIT 1 page.

Description of the instruments, and methods, the team has chosen for laboratory experimentation used off-site after the rover has returned its sample. Justification of the methods and the instrumentation should be included. LIMIT 1 page.

All past and present Mars surface operating missions and their instrumentation/experiments description related to astrobiology. LIMIT 1 page. 

References shall be cited on the pertinent page where appropriate.  All content (including, but not limited to, text, images, video, and audio) not created by the submitting team must be credited or cited appropriately. Plagiarism concerns are taken very seriously, and are grounds for disqualification.

Important Note on Hazardous Chemicals:
A safety plan for the use of any hazardous chemical shall be included as an appendix to the science plan if such chemicals are planned for use.  Judges reserve the right to reject the use of such chemicals/methods.  Teams are neither expected nor required to complete any portion of their analysis/experimentation using hazardous chemicals.  In general, the use of such chemicals is strongly discouraged due to safety issues:
- Teams traveling internationally should not attempt to transport hazardous chemicals;
- Neither MDRS nor Hanksville have suitable storage or disposal facilities;
- In the event of an emergency, major medical facilities are not close by.

For additional information, please reference the following, from the Q&A:

[23.Q] Regarding the use of hazardous chemicals in rule 3.b.vii are there any more specific guidelines for this plan we need to submit? Should this be included as part of our SAR package? If not, is there a specific due date for this plan? In particular would chemical X be allowed? [23.A] This is not expected as part of the SAR. There is no specific date, but we suggest you determine which chemicals you would like to use as soon as possible so you have time prior to the competition to choose new chemicals if some are not approved.  Anything with a NFPA hazard diamond rating of 4 is definitely not allowed at MDRS (e.g. hydrofluoric acid, potassium dichromate, chlorine dioxide). Hanksville does not have the resources to deal with any chemical that hazardous if anything goes wrong. A hazard diamond rating of 2 is probably fine, and 3 on a case-by-case basis, depending on what is required to mitigate a spill or treat an exposed victim, but teams need a plan to deal with any 3s. More specific guidelines on what is required for a hazardous chemical plan is given below.  Usage: Your hazardous chemical plan should start with a list of every chemical a team is planning to use, why, and how. This is the scientific justification and the judges may suggest teams find less hazardous assays which can be performed instead. Transport: How will you procure chemicals that cannot be transported on an airplane? How will you transport and store it in the U.S.? What is your disposal plan after URC? Safety and Accident Plan: For each chemical explain the risks and effects of exposure and how those can be effectively treated. This doesn't just mean send us a copy of the MSDS. Demonstrate you understand the hazards and are equipped to deal with an accident.