NASA invites students to participate in Earth and Space experiment missions

NASA is once again calling on the bright minds of middle and high school students to submit their experiment ideas for an exciting opportunity to fly their creations in Earth and space. The third TechRise Student Challenge is open to students in grades six to 12 attending public, private, or charter schools in the United States.

TechRise aims to provide students with hands-on experience in designing payloads for high-altitude balloon or rocket-powered lander test flights. By participating in this challenge, students will gain valuable insight into the process of space exploration, Earth observation, coding, electronics, and the importance of test data.

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson expressed his enthusiasm for the TechRise Student Challenge, stating that it is a fantastic way to engage with the Artemis Generation. He believes that by encouraging students to think big and harness their talents and creativity, they will play a vital role in the future of human exploration.

The TechRise Challenge is managed by NASA’s Flight Opportunities program and administered by Future Engineers. Teams of four or more students, under the guidance of an educator, are invited to design science and technology experiments for suborbital flights. Out of the numerous entries received, sixty winning teams will be chosen to turn their proposed experiment ideas into reality.

Winners of the TechRise Challenge will receive $1,500 to build their experiments. They will also be provided with a 3D printed flight box to assemble their creations and an assigned spot for their payload on a NASA-sponsored flight test. The deadline for submitting experiment ideas is October 20, 2023.

This year, TechRise entrants have the opportunity to propose flying with either a high-altitude balloon operated by World View or the Xodiac suborbital rocket-powered lander operated by Astrobotic. The high-altitude balloon will offer approximately four hours of flight time at 70,000 feet, exposing the experiments to Earth’s upper atmosphere, high-altitude radiation, and breathtaking views of our planet. On the other hand, the Xodiac lander will simulate the Moon’s surface by flying for approximately two minutes at an altitude of 80 feet.

NASA encourages students and their instructors to participate in the challenge, even if they have no prior experience in these activities. Extensive resources are available to support the teams throughout the submission process, including virtual educator workshops and a virtual field trip. Future Engineers will provide technical support and mentorship to the winning teams, ensuring they have the necessary skills to turn their experiment ideas into reality.

Gregory Tucker, an educator lead for the TechRise team at Nesbitt Discovery Academy in North Carolina, shared his experience with the challenge. He described it as an amazing STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) experience for his students. Tucker expressed his joy when the final test was complete, and their experiment was ready for launch. The confidence and pride gained by the students during this project were immeasurable. The Nesbitt Discovery Academy team’s experiment recently flew on a high-altitude balloon.

To enter the competition, teams must submit their experiment ideas online using the provided design guidelines and proposal template on the competition site. The winners will be announced in January 2024. From January to May 2024, the selected student teams will have the opportunity to build their payloads. Finally, in summer 2024, the experiments will take flight.

The NASA TechRise Challenge is led by NASA’s Flight Opportunities program, which focuses on rapidly demonstrating technologies for space exploration and expanding space commerce through suborbital testing with industry flight providers. The program is based at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in California and falls under NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD). STMD’s Prizes, Challenges, and Crowdsourcing program also supports TechRise through the NASA Tournament Lab.

Participating in the TechRise Student Challenge provides students with an incredible opportunity to showcase their creativity, knowledge, and passion for science and technology. By pushing the boundaries of what is possible, these young innovators are taking significant steps towards shaping the future of space exploration.