April 25, 2023: NASA Announces Student Winners of the Power to Explore Challenge
NASA selected three winners out of nine finalists in the second annual Power to Explore Challenge, a national competition for elementary through high school students featuring the power of radioisotopes for space exploration.
The competition asked students to learn about Radioisotope Power Systems (RPS), a type of “nuclear battery” that NASA uses to explore some of the most extreme destinations in our solar system and beyond. Inspired by the Planetary Science Decadal Survey, a report from the science community that prioritizes science mission concepts for NASA to consider, students envisioned a mission using this space power system. They wrote about their own power to achieve their mission goals in 200 words or less.
“Exploring the secrets of our universe is at the heart of what we do at NASA, and we can always use more help brainstorming innovative ways to reach the most extreme environments in our solar system,” said Nicola Fox, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. “It is my honor to congratulate the winners of this year’s Power to Explore Challenge for their exceptional radioisotope-generated mission ideas.”
Entries were split into three categories based on grade level, and a winner was chosen in each category. The three winners, along with a guardian, are invited to NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, for a VIP tour of its research facilities.
The winners are:
- Luca Pollack, Carlsbad, California, kindergarten through fourth grade.
- Rainelle Yasa, Los Angeles, fifth through eighth grade.
- Audrielle Paige Esma, Wildwood, Florida, ninth through 12th grade.
The Power to Explore Challenge offered students the opportunity to learn about space power, celebrate their own strengths, and interact with NASA’s diverse workforce. This year’s contest received nearly 1,600 submitted entries from 48 states, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Armed Forces.
Every student who submitted an entry received a digital certificate. Fifteen national semi-finalists in each grade category (45 total) will receive a NASA RPS prize pack, and three finalists in each category (nine total) were invited to discuss their mission concepts with a NASA scientist or engineer during an exclusive virtual event.
The challenge is funded by the NASA Science Mission Directorate’s RPS Program Office and administered by Future Engineers under the NASA Open Innovation Services 2 contract. This contract is managed by the NASA Tournament Lab, a part of the Prizes, Challenges, and Crowdsourcing Program in NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate.
For more information on the radioisotope power systems visit:https://rps.nasa.gov/
Glenn Research Center, Cleveland
Semi-finalists have been announced! Read the list of semifinalists here.
It takes a special kind of power to explore the extremes of our solar system, and NASA wants to hear how it would energize your space exploration dreams! If you could plan a mission in our solar system or beyond, where would you go, and what would you explore?
If you are a K-12 student in the United States, your challenge is to research Radioisotope Power Systems (RPS) and dream up a new RPS-powered space mission. RPS is a type of nuclear "battery" that has been used for over 60 years, enabling many spacecraft to explore some of the harshest, darkest environments, and the farthest reaches of our solar system.
Watch the Challenge Intro Video:
The Power to Explore Student Writing Challenge was open to students in kindergarten through 12th grade in U.S. public, private, and homeschools. Entries (maximum 200 words) were accepted between October 12, 2022 and January 17, 2023. Entries were judged in three grade-level categories: K-4, 5-8, and 9-12. Winners were announced on April 25, 2023.
Contest deadline: January 17, 2023 (the contest is now closed to new entries)
Prizes: The contest will have 45 semi-finalists, who will win prize packs, 9 finalists, who will win a chance to participate in a videoconference with NASA experts, and 3 winners, who were awarded a two-day trip for two to NASA's Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio.
NASA RPS Power to Explore Challenge
The challenge is funded by the NASA Science Mission Directorate’s RPS Program Office and managed and administered by Future Engineers under the direction of the NASA Tournament Lab, a part of the Prizes, Challenges, and Crowdsourcing Program in NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate.
This 200-word writing challenge inspires learning about how Radioisotope Power Systems help us explore the extremes of our solar system and to celebrate students' own unique power. Click on the "Enter Challenge" button to see the contest rules and enter the contest.