Shooting for the stars: Orchid School students take home first prize in Nasa settlement contest
Two schools of Pune, Orchid School and Vidya Valley School, have aced in the Nasa Ames Space Settlement Contest 2018. While a team of 11 students from Orchid School bagged the first place, two teams from Vidya Valley School won the second position.
This annual contest which is co-operated by Nasa Ames Research Centre, San Jose State University, and the National Space Society (NSS), US, is open for students up to Class 12 (18 years old) from across the world. This year the contest received approximately 2,500 submissions from an estimated 10,000 students. In the competition divided into two categories, small teams of two to five, and large teams of six or more, all students are required to design a space settlement or colony and propose theoretical solutions for the mission.
The 11 students from Orchid School were in the large group category, which included Aditya Nebhrajani, Arnav Kalgutkar, Shlok Pande, Ojas Davare, Aryan Deore, Galav Sharma and Aditya Deshmukh from the Class 9 and Dhruv Jadhav, Chinmay Kharche, Ved Joshi, and Arshia Joshi from Class 7.
Their award-winning project, ‘LOS Tara: A Home in Space’, presented an innovative, futuristic and cost-effective space settlement design, which won the first prize in the worldwide competition. The design for LOS (Lunar Orbit Station) Tara, which means the moon-star, was presented in a 150-page scientific paper describing the power, life support, agriculture, structure, government, robotics and other such aspects required to support a population of 15,000.
“While designing this settlement, we were posed with a number of questions or rather problems for which we tried to suggest solutions. These problems included, a smooth communication possibility with Earth, supply to adequate air and more. So the journey began with deciding the spot for our settlement and as opposed to an array of options, we decided to stick to the lunar orbit, as evident in the title. The reason behind this orbit was to minimise the cost of transporting goods and materials for building the settlement. Approximately, it takes around $20,000 dollars per kilogramme to transport any material from Earth’s surface to its orbit. So, keeping that in mind, we found the Moon with materials like titanium, oxygen and iron, to be a suitable spot for our settlement,” said 16-year-old Nebhrajani.
Students of Vidya Valley School, on the other hand, had created a three-dimensional model which can carry out agricultural activities on Mars.