Rocket 21 J2M National Finalists

Congratulations to the National Finalists


​Congrats to all the Rocket21 members who completed the Journey to MARS VOICES Challenge. And to everyone who participated and completed a portion of the Challenge Milestones.

Teams from The National Institute of Aerospace and NASA have reviewed all of the completed submissions. They had an exceptionally difficult challenge of their own - your ideas and innovation are amazing. Great job all around.

The scores were extremely competitive - after much collaboration the judges have named the following 6 students as National Pre-Teen Finalists and 8 students as National Teen Finalists. Beginning Monday, March 14th you will be able to vote for your favorite ideas and submissions. Vote for the grand prize winners here.

Meantime, a huge thank you and congratulations to everyone who participated in the Challenge.

Prize icon 6 National Pre-Teen Finalists Prize icon

Lovelace

Ada M.

Podcast:

Script:

Can you imagine traveling further into space than any human ever before? Well, NASA will be sending four, brave astronauts on a nine month journey to the red planet. But, with this amazing feat comes a challenge. On average, Mars is 140 million miles away, and scientists have said that the Space Launch System will release nine million pounds of thrust upon launch.

The question is, how do we get to Mars? My idea is to launch for Mars from the moon. In preliminary missions, whether robotic or manned, we could harvest rocket fuel from the recently discovered lunar water. There is an estimated 158 billion US gallons of water on the moon, and learning to utilize our local “lunar gas station” may prove to be helpful in other deep space travel missions. Moreover, because the moon’s gravitational pull is one sixth of the Earth’s pull, Orion could be launched from our moon with even greater velocity than if launched from Earth, using a rocket with no greater engine thrust or fuel capacity. Because the trip will take less time, astronauts would not experience as much exposure to cosmic radiation, mitigating health concerns, and decreasing the supplies required.

An alternative method would be to launch using less fuel, but at the same velocity with a smaller rocket. This doesn't bring the same health, time and velocity advantages as my other proposal, yet eliminates the need for a large and expensive rocket. Although there is quite a bit of water on the moon, this may be difficult to harvest as it is spread out at the bottom of 40 different craters. This is where using less fuel may be the better option. Either way, harvesting rocket fuel from the moon is a great alternative way to reach the red planet in less time, or using less fuel.

Remember, this is rocket science. For Innovation Now, this is Ada from Weston, Massachusetts.

Comments:

I had a lot of fun working on my submission, and I hope you enjoy listening to my podcast! My script is over 210 words, but I've managed to keep my podcast under 90 seconds.


Panda8

Amanda C.

Podcast:

Script:

What new technologies will we need for this Journey? What should we be doing now to be sure we are ready?

When we reach Mars, how will we produce and store supplies? We need to think ahead of time about providing supplies like water. Because our bodies are made of around 60 percent water, water is an inherent need for our survival there. This has been a hot topic for Mars because it does not have any obvious flowing water like Earth; however, as of late 2015, NASA has confirmed there is in fact water on the Red Planet. This was found by detecting hydrated minerals where dark streaks appeared and seemed to flow down slopes during warm seasons. The question is, if we are to eventually colonize Mars, how will we harvest and make this water potable for humans? I think maybe we can harvest the hydrated salts during the warm season and invent a way to extract and filter the water from the salts. The 2007 Phoenix Lander also discovered frozen water right under Mars’ surface in the polar region, so maybe we could also build a temperature and gravity controlled dome, which would melt the ice and prevent it from evaporating into space. Because Mars is smaller than Earth, it has less gravity, which is why even though it may have had rivers and oceans in the past, the water ultimately would have evaporated and escaped into space instead of having gravity pulling it back down to Mars. So going to Mars would have to be a well thought out trip, but a very important one nonetheless.

Additional Video:

Comments:

I had a great time learning all about Mars space travel. I'm excited to see what happens in the future!


Planetarian

Nagasai S.

Podcast:

Script:

Journey of a lifetime, journey to Mars.

It’s been close to 50 years that NASA made history by landing humans on the Moon. Flashing forward, now it’s the time to go to Mars. Preparation, journey, and setting up the colony on Mars are three crucial steps. Because there is no atmosphere on Mars, Sun’s radiation can very be harmful. Astronauts should be well protected, with proper shielding. Having underground tunnels between places, will also protect them. Underground habitats can also be a protection from asteroids, and meteors. They can pose more danger due to Mars’s thin atmosphere. Astronaut’s compact houses can be equipped with drills to dig underground and stay protected if required. Habitat building robots can be sent to Mars before humans arrive. With a new discovery of water on Mars, tunnels or canals can be dug to get water to the colonies. Water and oxygen can be extracted from the soil too. Genetically engineered seeds to sustain Mars’s harsh conditions can be planted for food. Satellites can be launched to establish communication between distant habitats and Earth. These are the necessary requirements for a successful Mars colony.

Comments:

I'm very excited about this competition. I have learned so many things about human space exploration and NASA's plans for manned mission to MARS. Thank you to NASA and Rocket21 for giving me this opportunity.


TBSauce

Andrew Y.

Podcast:

Script:

Robots in space. Mankind has dreamed about them, from small, fictional blue and silver droids with two legs, no arms, and the ability to project holograms, to actual anthropomorphic robots, like Robonaut 2. However, both of these robots can repair spacecraft. This was the goal of the Robonaut 2 project: to create a humanoid robot that could work on spacecrafts from the outside and help with construction in space, such as on the journey to Mars. Robots like Robonaut 2 do not need legs nor rocket boosters. They can simply be attached to an arm on the spacecraft that can maneuver out in space. In addition, hands with opposable thumbs are necessary to do the work on the outside of the ship. There are many benefits of using robots instead of humans. Robots do not need to use cumbersome spacesuits and oxygen, they can do dangerous work that is too risky for humans, and they allow astronauts to concentrate on other activities instead of doing repetitive or simple work. One last benefit of using robots like Robonaut 2 is that they can work without food or rest. This makes them more efficient than humans. Because of these benefits, robots can move from fighting “star wars” to performing “Mars chores”.


Wizard10

Andrew W.​

Script:

NASA is working to achieve a new goal, one that will be bigger than ever before! They are preparing for a Journey to Mars! My idea for living and working on MARS is a base camp which would provide a stationary home for the astronauts. The first area would be the sleeping chamber. There will also be 2 restrooms which will have a simple sewer system, leading to the greenhouse. In the greenhouse, the waste will be used as fertilizer for the soil in order to grow crops and plants. The plants will produce oxygen and food, which will be brought to the storage room. The underground storage room will hold these and other valuable resources. In the kitchen, there will be two microwaves and a refrigeration unit. Microwaves will be useful because they are small, simple, and do not need Oxygen. The power sources for all these technologies will be solar or battery. Windmills will be used to recharge batteries. The last section will be the base for the transportation system. There will be a moveable railway leading in to the base. Transportation will consist of small train-like vehicles, powered by solar energy. My Mars base camp will provide protection and necessary resources for a successful Journey to Mars.

Vodcast:



Photo of chart:


Zombie8259

Andrew W.

Podcast:

Script:

In the past, the Reaction Control System, a fancy name for the system that controls where a space craft is pointing, was used to control where a vehicle landed on Mars. There have been some concerns with using the Reaction Control System, like being able to land a vehicle in a precise location on the Mars surface. It may be possible to design a Mars lander that would reduce the need to use the Reaction Control System. That new technology will be the Wing Leg. A wing can be used to land a vehicle on Mars since the planet has an atmosphere. The Wing Leg will have flaps like an airplane that can control the direction and speed of landing. The Reaction Control System could be used along with the Wing Leg to make landing on Mars more precise. Once the landing vehicle is close to the surface of Mars the Wing Leg frame will bend and the bottom part of the wing will fold up to become a leg for the vehicle to land on. The wing will fold into the leg shape using the principles of origami, the Japanese art of paper folding. Origami based engineering design has already been used by NASA engineers to design solar panels.

Additional Video:

Comments:

I had a lot of fun doing this challenge and I'm excited about where origami engineering will take us.




Prize icon 8 National Teen Finalists Prize icon

Wow. The scores in this group were especially close. The National Finalists include multiple ties - which means we have a group of 8 National Finalist Submissions, rather than 6. BRAVO to the entire group.

AstroQuark

Pooja P.

Vodcast:

Script:

Our world is poised to see a new revolution in space exploration: The Journey to Mars.

While NASA is developing technology to send humans to Mars by the 2030s, we must also consider energy. To have a self-sustaining settlement, where humans can live and conduct research, humans will need competent energy systems.

For solar power, the Martian terrain’s dust could coat over solar panels. Furthermore, seasonal changes reduce the intensity of available solar energy. However, mini-nuclear reactors to power colonies seem viable. In reality, the energy systems will be combinations of existing systems to ensure affordability, durability, and efficiency.

Like early explorers, living off the land will be necessary on Mars. NASA’s research shows that lunar soil, regolith, can be reduced to extract oxygen. Further research is yet to find similar applications in Mars.

Research published in the journal Nature Communications, has developed a CO2 sublimation engine that utilizes phase changes to harvest energy. After all, dry ice is abundantly available on the Martian ice caps, and carbon dioxide gas composes 95% of its atmosphere.

As our odyssey through the vast expanses of space continue, we will need more efficient and viable methods of energy production. Above all, the Journey to Mars will be our next leap into understanding the universe.

Comments:

I had so much fun making this video. (It also took so many retakes!) I made this video to bring attention to the fact that as space exploration continues, we will need more efficient energy systems. One plausible method is to create new versions of power plants that are customized to the certain environment, such as the Martian environment.

Thanks for giving me this opportunity to participate! I learned so much!


Becca1124

Becca R.

Podcast:

Script:

Efficient rocket pods will spearhead the journey to Mars: What if NASA could launch a rocket to Mars without worrying about the weight of all necessary fuel and supplies? With the advancement of new rocket pods, the journey to Mars will be more efficient than ever. The pod would be launched prior to the liftoff of the main rocket, and would carry all needed supplies for the trip. Since a large amount of the fuel would be used on launching the rocket out of Earth’s atmosphere, the pod would then attach to the rocket and supply it with a new storage of fuel and other needed items. With magnetism, this process could be even more efficient. It has been proven that magnetism functions in space, therefore, this pod could attach to the rocket under these principles, quickly and efficiently. In addition, another pod could be launched after the rocket’s liftoff and travel to Mars, waiting to supply the rocket with another round of supplies for the journey home.

Chart:

Comments:

If this approach to launching a rocket to Mars is used, the central rocket will be able to carry much more needed items for the journey. This element is vital because having extra supplies and items in case of emergency could be everything in case of a tough situation. The rocket would also be able to carry more supplies for life on Mars itself, with these innovative rocket pods. Most importantly, these rocket pods would help to solve fuel storage problems throughout the long journey. These examples just begin to cover how beneficial the rocket pods would be towards mans step on Mars. Thank you for your consideration.


ChicksinSpace

Adia B.

Submission 1

Podcast:

Script:

The world looks forward to space missions to Mars and beyond. There are amazing discoveries to be made and many questions to be answered. For these missions to be successful everything must be used at maximum efficiency, there must be no waste of materials, time, or energy. The brave explorers that make these journeys face many obstacles. Exposure to long term microgravity leads to loss of bone and muscle strength. To counteract this situation astronauts exercise several hours a day. Time spent exercising is time lost. It could have been used to conduct experiments or perform the work required to maintain a space outpost. The invention of exercise equipment that provides exercise for the body, and also performs other time consuming menial tasks, will make time that is normally lost during exercise productive. Exercise equipment designed to function under conditions of microgravity and perform tasks has been developed. Time spent exercising will no longer be wasted - it will be used pumping water, charging batteries, and spinning a centrifuge. Any innovation that allows for a more efficient use of time and performance of additional purposeful activities will help make long term space missions a reality. Prototypes of this exercise equipment are ready to be tested on the International Space Station.

Video About the Project:

Comments:

I love space and want to help the future of space exploration. I like to build things and I try to invent things that will help make missions to Mars a reality. I want to be an engineer and work for NASA.


ChicksinSpace

Adia B.

Submission 2

Vodcast:

Script:

As space exploration continues beyond low earth orbit astronauts move out of the protection of the earth's magnetosphere and atmosphere and will be exposed to harmful levels of radiation. Radiation has been linked to development of cancer, cataracts, and a weakened immune system. For any successful long term space mission the problem of exposure to both Galactic Cosmic Radiation and Solar Particle Events must be addressed. NASA's goal is to keep radiation ALARP - As Low As Reasonably Possible. Not only must astronauts be protected during space travel, they also must have the ability to establish outposts that provide radiation protection. The establishment of space outposts using native regolith would significantly reduce the costs of constructing an effective radiation shield. The efficacy of a material as a radiation shield is commonly measured by calculating its halving thickness. Halving thickness is the amount of material required to effectively block half of the radiation it is exposed to . The halving thickness of simulated Martian regolith was calculated and it was determined that this was a potential source of a radiation shield. Sandbags have been used in construction for many years. Further research should be done to assess the feasibility of constructing space outposts using native regolith in sandbag design.

Additional Video About the Project:

Comments:

I love space travel and want to do anything I can to help make future missions to Mars a success!!!! I hope to go to college to be an engineer and then work for NASA. I love space science and want to help the future of space exploration in any way possible. I hope to be an engineer and work on the equipment necessary to make long term space missions possible.


RunnerBoy2016

Matthew W.

Vodcast:

Script:

For My idea for the rocket 21 competition I designed something called a MAR-V. The MAR-V is a combination of a RV that goes on Mars. Its purpose is to carry astronauts from base to base of they are far away from each other and what I mean by that is that the journey will take a day or more. The MAR-V has room for food, water, a place to sleep, and some form of entertainment. The MAR-V will be powered by solar energy and it will look something like this. It will have a curved roof to improve the efficiency when it’s in motion and when it’s not in transit the roof will raise up to increase the room in the MAR-V so people can live in it for however long they need. The MAR-V will have a hook at one end so it can be towed by another rover of some sort. The way the MAR-V gets to Mars will be similar to how Skylab was put into earth’s orbit. First they launch the station and then the crew so when the crew gets there everything is already setup for them. For innovation now this is Matthew from Sykesville MD.


TGSauce

Jacob Y.

Podcast:

Script:

Astronauts have always brought supplies with them for the journey into space. However, for a mission to Mars, a large amount of resources will be needed for a long trip and an extended stay on the Red Planet. These supplies will be costly and difficult to transport. This raises a crucial question: how can astronauts obtain resources for survival without bringing them along? The answer may lie in what is called in situ resource utilization, or ISRU. Instead of transporting resources to Mars, we may be able to obtain these resources from Mars itself. ISRU technology would be used so water and oxygen can be generated or extracted from the soil or even the atmosphere of Mars. Water itself could be electrolyzed into oxygen or even turned into rocket fuel! ISRU is already being developed by scientists: in Mauna Kea, Hawaii, two reactors have already been built to extract water from simple soil, and a machine called the MOXIE is planned to convert Martian carbon dioxide into breathable oxygen. Essential supplies for living on Mars - water to drink, oxygen to breathe, and fuel for the trip back to Earth - may be obtainable thanks to ISRU. We will need the moxie to bring ISRU technology to Mars.


TheDreyster

Andrea L.

Vodcast:

Script:

The journey through Mars involves an immense amount of preparation. Up in space, the health of astronauts and resource conservation are two very important concerns. It is necessary to prepare by planning out nutritious meals and their method of storage. To maximize the limited resources in space, gardens maintained on the ship supply nutrient rich food. In addition, I think food can be compacted in air compressed, oxo-biodegradable plastic bento-boxed types of containers, so that it takes up minimal space on the ship. Specially designed plastic will disintegrate during set intervals throughout the trip and provide the gardens with added nutrients that encourage plant growth. I also think it is important to create an specific area where massive amounts of the compacted food will be stored and organized by the plastics’ disintegration date. In this way, the food in the packages will be used in time for the plastic to be decomposed for the plants in the gardens. This eco-friendly and waste conservation method increases the amount of food for the astronauts, maximizes the amount of resources that can be taken on the journey and also provides more nutrient filled food to help astronauts maintain good health throughout the trip.


WhiteDwarf

Wiona G.

Vodcast:

Additional Video:

Script:

Superhuman Space Explorers - Exoskeletons could soon help Astronauts on long distance missions

As NASA is planning the Journey to Mars, one of the major issues the scientists are worrying about are the effects that spending 9 months in microgravity will have on the astronauts. These effects include the loss of muscle, decrease in bone density and an impaired sense of balance. Astronauts will at first probably not even be able to walk without support just as astronauts who return to earth after staying on the International Space Station. A spacesuit that uses muscle support structures could help astronauts enormously. So-called Exoskeletons are wearable robots, which could be used to enhance the astronaut’s strength so they can walk long distances, work for long durations, or carry heavy loads. The exoskeleton would be a great tool to use the precious time on Mars most effectively for research and exploration. Another way of using the exoskeleton is on the way to Mars for training purposes. The mechanic joints of the exoskeleton could then create a resistance instead of supporting the astronaut’s movements and simulate movements like in gravity. Combined with a virtual reality system this would also be a fun way of working out for astronauts. NASA is already working on an exoskeleton called X1, which will empower astronauts in the future.

For Innovation Now this is Wiona from Austin, Texas.

Vote For the 2 Grand Prize Winners!

Voting Instructions

Please vote for your favorite entry in each of the two age categories. The top 2 entries that receive the most votes will win the Grand Prize for the Journey to Mars VOICES Challenge, a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Washington, DC!

Voters may vote once per day beginning Monday, March 14th and continue voting through midnight on Sunday, March 20th. Voting will close at midnight Hawaii-Aleutian Standard time on March 20th, to allow all U.S. residents the opportunity to vote through midnight in their local time zone.

Grand Prize winners will be announced on Monday, March 21st.

Fill out my online form.