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All-woman Engineering Team Heads to NASA Mars Competition

22 Apr 2019, 13:05 UTC
All-woman Engineering Team Heads to NASA Mars Competition
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NASA has named a University of Colorado Boulder team a finalist in a competition to design a greenhouse for use on Mars. The annual NASA BIG Idea Challenge is set for April 23-24 in Hampton, Virginia; it calls on student groups at universities across the country to develop solutions to vexing space problems. The event changes each year, and the 2019 contest is seeking innovative ideas for the design and operation of a Mars greenhouse.Supplying reliable and effective food production on the Red Planet will be critical for long-term missions to ensure astronauts are well-fed and to avoid transporting massive amounts of ready-made food from Earth. The competition, however, is about more than just growing crops; student teams are essentially developing an entire ecosystem to operate and thrive on an otherwise dead planet.“It’s a huge integration challenge,” said Heather Hava, team leader and an aerospace PhD student whose research focuses on space agriculture. “Systems-level thinking for this kind of design is super important. We have to manage human and crop nutrients, water, waste, power, lighting, crew time and a lot of other things that you wouldn’t worry as much about on Earth. For example, tracking how much oxygen does this ...

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