On Monday, April 15, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in the U.S. announced the winners for its 25th annual Rover Challenge for school and college students. Three teams from India have won four awards in all.
NASA’s Human Exploration Rover Challenge attracted almost a hundred teams from across the globe to compete against each other. Over the course of two days, teams from Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Punjab won coveted the international NASA awards.
The competition features participants from the U.S., Puerto Rico, Brazil, Germany, Mexico, Egypt, Bolivia, Egypt, the Dominican Republic, Ethiopia, Morocco, and Peru as well.
South Asia was represented by Bangladesh and India.
Who are the winners?
All three teams won awards at the collegiate level and bagged four prizes among them.
KIET Group of Institutions from Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh, won the AIAA Neil Armstrong Best Design Award.
Mukesh Patel School of Technology Management and Engineering in Mumbai, Maharashtra, won the Frank Joe Sexton Memorial Pit Crew Award and the System Safety Challenge Award for best safety practices.
At the 2016 challenge, the Mukesh Patel School also won the Spirit Award and System Safety Award.
Lovely Professional University in Phagwara, Punjab, won the STEM Engagement Award.
University of Puerto Rico Mayagüez- Team 1 placed first overall in the college division with 101 points. The International Space Education Institute of Leipzig, Germany, scored 91 points and bagged first place in the high school (secondary school) category.
What is the NASA rover challenge
NASA’s Human Exploration Rover Challenge is a two-day competition that takes place every year at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama.
The Rover Challenge is hosted by the Marshall Space Flight Center. Nearly 100 school and collegiate teams participated in activities on April 12 and April 13.
This year, the competition was celebrating its own 25th anniversary and the 50th anniversary of the Apollo Moon landing. NASA astronaut Sunita “Suni” Williams also attended as a guest speaker.
Williams’ father is an Indian born in Gujarat who migrated to the U.S. Williams holds the world record for the female with the second-most number of spacewalks—four. She is currently training for the Boeing Starliner spacecraft mission.
A team of two students—male and female—must design one human-powered rover that can run through an obstacle course.
The course is half a mile long (0.8 kilometres) and has 14 obstacles and five tasks such as sample collection, photography, flag planting. The terrain simulates the surface of the Mars and other planetary objects like asteroids.
The teams only have six minutes at the course and must decide on which hurdles to overcome before their time ends. They are judged on how successfully they complete the course.
“The creativity, skill and resourcefulness demonstrated each year on the rover course are the very traits that paved our path to the Moon in 1969, and the ones that will continue to carry NASA forward to the Moon again in 2024”, said Musgrove.
NASA says that the rover challenge creates learning opportunities for students who may be interested in space research.
Indians students participating in the competition are able to travel abroad and interact with peers who are equally interested in science and technology.
The NASA Rover Challenge is a good opportunity for Indian students to build professional networks and learn from people all over the world who are also privy to Indian success.
Rhea Arora is a Staff Writer at Qrius.