NASA Funds Artemis Student Challenges to Inspire Space Exploration

NASA will award nearly $2.4 million to universities as part of the Artemis Student Challenges, a bold new initiative to inspire the next generation – the Artemis Generation. The six universities receiving awards will use the grants to advance the quality, relevance and overall reach of opportunities to engage students as NASA takes the first step in the next era of exploration.

Each of these opportunities will build foundational knowledge and introduce students to topics and technologies critical to the success of the agency’s Artemis program, which will land the first woman and next man on the Moon by 2024 using innovative technologies to explore more of the lunar surface than ever before. Through the Artemis Student Challenges students will test and strengthen their skills for future mission planning and crewed space missions to other worlds.

“NASA is proud of this collaborative effort between the agency and our Space Grant partners,” said Mike Kincaid, associate administrator for NASA’s Office of STEM Engagement. “These opportunities will bring the excitement of Artemis and the future of space exploration to students nationwide.”

Capitalizing on the momentum of the Artemis program, the Artemis Student Challenges will be led by NASA’s Office of STEM Engagement, with cost-share support from four agency departments leading the Artemis efforts: the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, the Space Technology Mission Directorate, the Science Mission Directorate, and NASA’s Chief Economist. Collectively, these new awards will connect Artemis Generation students to the science, technology and missions of Artemis through authentic, mission-driven experiences and learning opportunities.

The following two universities were selected for Artemis Teaching and Resource Availability Awards:

University of Alabama, Huntsville – $200,000: The university will develop resources and materials related to Artemis Trajectory Design and Mission Analysis, which will enable spacecraft to transfer from Earth orbit to Earth-Lunar orbit and later onto Mars through the Gateway. The products will be available via a self-study, online learning platform. This team includes co-investigators from Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama; Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania; and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, Arizona.

University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign – $200,000: The University will develop learning resources, enabling self-study of topics and technologies directly relevant to Artemis, such as habitats, robotics precursor missions, and exploration spacecraft. Products will be disseminated via self-study online learning. This team includes a co-investigator from Northern Illinois University in Dekalb, and a broad partnership of contributors spanning the state of Illinois. In addition, students from seven additional states – Iowa, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio and Wisconsin – are expected to participate in the initial evaluation of the learning resources.

The following two universities were selected for Artemis Core Technologies Awards:

University of Colorado, Boulder – $499,333: The university will generate hands-on learning opportunities related to the Great Lunar Expedition for Everyone (GLEE) LunaSat platform. Each LunaSat includes a suite of sensors enhanced by innovative technology that makes it capable of eventually operating on the surface of the Moon. Students will learn how to integrate a suite of sensors, which include temperature sensors, accelerometers, magnetometers, gyroscopes and radiation sensors. This team will include undergraduate students from the university.

University of Hawaii, Honolulu – $500,000: The university will generate hands-on learning opportunities related to orbital and suborbital CubeSats containing all of the subsystems of a fully functioning passive satellite. Each CubeSat will include onboard computing, communication components, dynamic sensors, an infrared camera and an electrical power system. The hands-on learning opportunities will be supplemented with online learning resources. The grant will also be used to assist CubeSat projects from states that are not yet part of NASA’s CubeSat Launch Initiative. This team will include undergraduate students from the University of Hawaii in Honolulu. A broad network of students from Hawaii and Washington will be included in performing the initial evaluation of the learning products.

The following two universities were selected for Artemis Student Challenge Awards:

University of California, San Diego – $500,000: The university will develop a Lunar/Martian Lander skills competition, using existing technology to execute the competition in Earth’s gravity and atmosphere. The competition requires competitors to develop and demonstrate Artemis-relevant systems engineering skills by building a lander free flier and navigating it through a 3D obstacle course. This team includes a co-investigator from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, working in partnership with the Space Science Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley.

University of Washington, Seattle – $499,864: The university will develop a Lunar/Martian exploration and habitation skills competition involving several Artemis-relevant tasks. The competition includes using a rover to explore facsimile lava tube and surface structures, generating maps, identifying valuable resources, and deploying an airtight barrier to seal the lava tube as a potential pressurized living quarters for humans. This team has received commitments from four additional western Space Grant teams from Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Texas to host regional competitions in coordination with the University of Washington in Seattle.

NASA selected the new award recipients in response to a solicitation open to colleges and universities within the National Space Grant Consortia network. The nationwide Space Grant network is positioned to eventually deliver these unique opportunities to American students – regardless of where they live – through virtual learning and deliverable technology education kits. New challenges can be expanded to every state once the pilot challenge award work is completed.

“These Artemis Student Challenge opportunities continue the NASA Space Grant College and Fellowship Program tradition of creating team-building, highly-interactive, and extremely relevant opportunities for students that are directly applicable to the focus of the mission directorates as the nation prepares to return to the Moon.” said Luke Flynn, Awardee and National Space Grant Consortia Executive Committee Chairperson.

The National Space Grant Consortia operates in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. Each consortium has a lead institution responsible for coordinating and managing its activities. In addition, more than 1,000 affiliates, including colleges and universities, industry, museums and science centers, nonprofit organizations and state and local agencies, work to support and enhance science and engineering education, research and public outreach efforts for NASA’s aeronautics and space projects. The affiliates work directly with the lead Space Grant institutions to deliver quality STEM programs.