NewswireToday - /newswire/ -
Santa Maria, CA, United States, 2007/05/09 - The NASA Centennial Challenges are drawing the best ideas from the public. A recent winner at the Fifth Centennial challenge bodes well for the next Centennial Challenge event in Santa Maria, California.
The teams competing for the NASA Centennial Challenge on Saturday, May 12 are following a tough act after the first ever Centennial Challenge prize was awarded last week. Peter Homer of Maine won $200,000 for his innovative astronaut glove design. This Saturday's challenge, taking place in Santa Maria, California, at the city's fairgrounds, features a prize purse of $250,000.
Called the “Regolith Excavation Challenge,” this sixth NASA Centennial Challenge seeks a team that can design and build an autonomously operating system that excavates the most lunar regolith simulant, or “moon dirt,” beyond the minimum requirement, and deliver it to a collector. Teams from across the nation are competing. Is the pressure on for another centennial challenge winner?
I wasn't even aware of the other challenges,” said regolith excavation competitor Geoffrey Pulk of the Michigan-based Duplex Engineering team. Pulk’s two-person team has been working tirelessly on their excavator these past two weeks. His prediction: “Either it will work flawlessly, or it will stall in 3 seconds.”
Dr. Ananda M. Wijesinghe, president of Livermore, California-based Iris Systems Inc. & Grainflow is confident about Saturday’s competition. “The IrisXcavator moves mountains in minute steps at marvelous speeds,” he said. “We’re very confident that the ideals we have will prevail.”
“Whether there is a winner or not of the Regolith Excavation Challenge, the event will be a learning experience for all those involved according to Deborah Hirsh, Executive Director of the California Space Education and Workforce Institute (CSEWI), selected by NASA to serve as an allied organization to administer the challenge. “With the return of man's presence on the moon imminent, this contest provides the perfect learning opportunity and visibility for today's youth in the kind of technology the next generation will be building for our nation's lunar excavations,” said Hirsh.
Operating concurrently in the same building as the NASA Centennial Challenge, CSEWI and its co-host the California Space Authority (CSA) (californiaspaceauthority.org) will feature the 1st Annual California RoboChallenge. The K-12 robotics competition has student teams, like the NASA Centennial Challenge teams, that will go head-to-head with their own robots made from LEGO® Mindstorm® pieces.
NASA Ames Director S. Pete Worden and Vandenberg Air Force Base Commander Col. Stephen Tanous will be the event’s inspirational speakers and are expected to encourage students to study science, engineering and math.
NASA's Centennial Challenge—the Regolith Excavation Challenge—is free to the public. Families and visitors may also enjoy fun and interactive educational activities made available by various exhibitors.