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Five Caltech Students Among Those Selected For International Space Mission Design Competition

Published on Sunday, March 27, 2022 | 6:02 am

Five students from Caltech accepted the Titan Sample Return Space Challenge 2022 — a five-day space mission design competition for students from all the world organized by Caltech.

The five were among 32 students from over 900 applicants who made it to the competition, which ran from March 21 to March 25, according to Space Challenge 2022 coordinator Niyati Desai.

This year’s competition included students from Canada, Romania, United Kingdom, India, Netherlands, Australia, Argentina, Mexico, Poland, Singapore, Japan, Italy, France.

Desai said the participants were split into two teams of 16 and both teams worked under the mentorship of experts from industry, NASA and academia to design their mission concept from scratch.

For this year’s Space Challenge, participants were asked to design a mission to Titan — Saturn’s largest moon.

According to Caltech, besides Earth, Titan is the only planetary body where there is clear evidence of stable bodies of surface liquid as well as subsurface oceans.

“Students are working together to come up with a detailed mission plan to collect and return three samples from Titan’s atmosphere, surface, and lakes.”

“At the end of the intense week, filled with lectures from distinguished experts in the field and mentorship from various scientists and engineers in the Aerospace industry, they defend their proposed missions to a panel of esteemed judges,” said Desai.

The Caltech Space Challenge was started in 2011 by Caltech graduate students Prakhar Mehrotra and Jonathan Mihaly.

Participants of the 2011 challenge designed a mission to a Near-Earth Object. The second edition of the Caltech Space Challenge, held in 2013, developed a crewed mission to a Martian moon.

For the fifth edition, held in 2019, participants designed a mission to land in the tiger stripe region of Enceladus and use a distributed lander system to maximize the science gains.

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