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Challenge Details
YOUR CHALLENGE IS:

IMAGINE LEADING A ONE-WEEK EXPEDITION ON THE MOON AND WRITE AN ESSAY THAT TELLS NASA ALL ABOUT IT

ENTRIES DUE: December 17, 2020 | 11:59 PM PST

NASA is taking remote learning to the Moon! 2020 has been a year of working and living at a distance. Now consider what it might be like if you were living with a pod of astronauts 250,000 miles from Earth. Your challenge is to imagine leading a one-week expedition at the Moon’s South Pole – with the whole world cheering you on. Tell us about the types of skills, attributes, and/or personality traits that you would want your Moon Pod crew to have and why. How many would be in your pod? And of course you’ll need high tech gear and gadgets! In your essay, also describe one machine, robot, or technology that you would leave on the lunar surface to help future astronauts explore the Moon. Your entry must meet these requirements:

  • Grades K-4: Essay, up to 100 words
  • Grades 5-8: Essay, up to 200 words
  • Grades 9-12: Essay, up to 300 words
  • Please DO NOT put your name in your entry
  • For all entry requirements and judging criteria please read the RULES
There is so much to research before writing your essay! Visit the EDUCATION RESOURCES section below to learn about the moon, NASA’s Artemis program, and to brainstorm your expedition. Artemis is committed to landing the first woman and the next man on the Moon by 2024, and we’re excited for you to join in the adventure. Every student who submits an entry will receive a certificate from NASA and be invited to a special NASA virtual event – with an astronaut!

Selected semifinalists will be invited to represent their state or territory in a series of Artemis Explorer sessions with NASA experts. Nine finalists will travel with a parent to NASA’s Johnson Space Center next summer to learn about lunar exploration, and the national winner in each grade division will win a family trip to see the first Artemis test launch to watch the most powerful rocket in the world launch from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Godspeed and good luck!
Challenge Launch Video
play
VOLUNTEER TO JUDGE (18+)
 
 

DATES / JUDGING CRITERIA / PRIZES

You have to play by the rules to win.

WHO CAN ENTER

Individual K-12 Students in US public, private, and home schools (including U.S. territories & possessions and schools operated by the U.S. for the children of American personnel overseas). NO team entries allowed! Children and students who live in the same household with NASA employees cannot enter. For all eligibility details, please refer to the rules.
Grades K-4
Grades 5-8
Grades 9-12

JUDGING CRITERIA

Grades K-4
Grades 5-8
Grades 9-12
 
40
POINTS
Your Moon Pod crew’s ability to address the challenges and opportunities of exploring the moon
40
POINTS
Usefulness of your proposed science or technology left on the moon
10
POINTS
Originality and innovation of the ideas presented
10
POINTS
Quality of the essay and/or finalist interview
40
POINTS
Your Moon Pod crew’s ability to address the challenges and opportunities of exploring the moon
40
POINTS
Usefulness of your proposed science or technology left on the moon
10
POINTS
Originality and innovation of the ideas presented
10
POINTS
Quality of the essay and/or finalist interview
40
POINTS
Your Moon Pod crew’s ability to address the challenges and opportunities of exploring the moon
40
POINTS
Usefulness of your proposed science or technology left on the moon
10
POINTS
Originality and innovation of the ideas presented
10
POINTS
Quality of the essay and/or finalist interview

HOW TO ENTER

Please review the Challenge Rules and FAQ prior to creating your entry.

Challenge Rules FAQ

TEACHERS
Sign up to register your class and manage entries. We now support Google Classroom too!

STUDENTS
Sign up on your own, or use a code to participate with your class.

STUDENT USING GOOGLE CLASSROOM?
Login to Enter

STUDENT & TEACHER SIGN UP
PROGRAM DATES
Challenge Launch
15
September
Entries Close
17
December
Semifinalists Announced
17
March
Finalists Announced
07
April
Finalist Interviews
29
April
Winners Announced
19
May
Challenge Launch
15
September
Entries Close
17
December
Semifinalists Announced
17
March
Finalists Announced
07
April
Finalist Interviews
29
April
Winners Announced
19
May

PRIZES

 

Dive Into The Challenge

Lesson Plan Details and Challenge Tips!

1. Links & Lessons

Get to know the Artemis Program

2. Brainstorm & Design

Plan your Moon expedition
Links & Lessons
Brainstorm & Design
Links & Lessons
>
Links & Lessons
Brainstorm & Design

Brainstorm & Design

NASA’s Artemis program will send the first woman and next man to the Moon by 2024, but this is just the beginning! Each spacecraft that lands on the Moon will bring new robots, machines, and technologies to the surface that can keep working, even between astronaut visits. And each crew will work toward the larger goal of developing the capabilities for astronauts to live and work on the moon for a month – or more! Use the brainstorming sections below to start thinking about how you will lead a one-week expedition that advances the future of space exploration so that future crews can stay longer and explore further.
Brainstorming Idea
The Moon's South Pole

Your pod will spend 7 days exploring the lunar South Pole so it's important to know your environment! The Moon does not have an atmosphere like Earth, which means that there is no air to breathe. There is also no protection from the sun and its radiation, so midday temperatures can reach 127°C (hotter than boiling water) whereas at night they can fall as low as -173°C. So you must wear a spacesuit at all times when you are outside your habitat. Also, don’t forget that the moon has about 1/6th the amount of gravity as we have here on Earth, so it will feel like you’re walking on a trampoline!

Brainstorming Idea
The Moon's Craters

Large craters at the Moon's South Pole are home to "permanently shadowed regions" that never see sunlight. Robotic missions like the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter have revealed that these spots of total darkness may contain patches of frost or ice. Could the ice be melted and filtered for drinking water? Or, could it be broken down into its elements (hydrogen and oxygen) to create breathable air for your spacesuits or rocket fuel to get back home? Many of the crater rims will have near constant sunlight, where you could harvest solar energy to power your rover habitat.

Brainstorming Idea
Expedition Goals

What will define your expedition? How will your crew’s time on the Moon be a building block for the future? What do you hope to learn or accomplish in one week? Will you be building a structure? Conducting an experiment? Exploring a new area? Making a machine? Mining minerals? Harvesting water? Starting a lunar farm? Technology will play a major role in all aspects of your journey. But don’t forget, this is human exploration. Your pod must always thrive and survive – both physically and mentally.

 

 

Brainstorming Idea
Personality Traits

As the leader of the expedition, think about what types of skills you would bring to the team. What are the kinds of personalities or character traits that you would want your crewmates to have? Should they have similar personalities or different? There will be times to relax, laugh, and be silly – just like if you were camping here on Earth. But there will also be extreme situations that may test character - from staying calm while solving a problem to being brave in the face of fear or encouraging others to persevere. 

 

 

 

 

Brainstorming Idea
Work Skills

Think about the goals of your expedition and the type of skills that your crew would need for success. Would you work together on a single goal or divide and conquer different tasks? Also, you are 250,000 miles from Earth, so what skills would your pod need to deal with the unexpected, such as if something breaks? Consider how technology may reduce the number of human skills that are needed. For example, do you need a doctor to do daily health check-ups or will you rely on biometric sensors? Or both! Lastly, how will you share your adventure with the billions of people back on Earth cheering you on? Communication is a skill too.

Brainstorming Idea
Representing Humanity

In the history of our world, there have been approximately 570 people that have traveled to space – ever. And when astronauts do travel to space, all eyes are on them. Astronauts inspire not only a nation, but a world. They represent humanity in our quest to explore and understand more about our universe and they become role models for kids across the globe. How will that factor into your crew choices?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brainstorming Idea
Sustainable Technologies

NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket is the most powerful rocket in the world, but it is still limited in how many crew members and how much gear it can bring. What resources ON the Moon might you be able to incorporate into your plan? Similar too how we use water, solar power and raw materials here our Earth, the Moon has resources on its surface (and subsurface!) that may play a role in your mission – from lunar soil to mining metals to harvesting ice. Your pod is only there for one -week, but future astronauts that stay on the Moon for longer durations will need to survive using more than what they bring. Bringing 6 months' worth of water and frozen burritos is HEAVY, and kind of ridiculous, so start thinking and building sustainably for future crews! Maybe your idea will improve life here on Earth too!

Brainstorming Idea
Robotic Explorers

NASA has set their sights on exploring the surface of the Moon with human and robotic explorers. Much like NASA has used rovers to study Mars, they plan to do the same on the Moon. Imagine exploring the Moon with robotic helpers. It’s not science fiction anymore, NASA is making it science fact! How could robotic explorers be useful to your crew and future crews?  What information do you hope to investigate or discover as you study different areas of the lunar South Pole? What new knowledge might you learn about the Moon, Earth, and our origins in the solar system?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brainstorming Idea
Going the Distance

Walking is great. It’s healthy. It’s invigorating. But don’t forget that you are in a spacesuit that’s not quite as comfy as spandex. What if you wanted to explore an area of the moon one mile away where no one has been before? How would you get there? What mobility or transport vehicles might help you or future crews to move around? How will they be powered? Keep in mind there is sun on the crater rims the Moon’s polar mountain peaks (crater rims and ridges), but once you move off those peaks, you are in the crater you will have dark days and dark nights. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brainstorming Idea
Getting There

To be clear, your essay should be about your time ON the Moon. Nonetheless, we wanted to take a moment to share how NASA’s Artemis program plans to take future astronauts, like you,  TO the Moon. A crew of astronauts will ride in the Orion spacecraft, which will sit atop the powerful Space Launch System (SLS) Rocket that travels at speeds up to 24,500 mph. The Orion capsule will dock with an orbiting lunar outpost called “Gateway”. The astronauts will board Gateway as a staging point (it’s kind of like changing planes at an airport, but in space, and orbiting the Moon). Then when the moment is right, astronauts will use lunar landers to travel to the Moon's surface. Three companies are working hard at work designing lunar landers now, including Blue Origin, SpaceX, and Dynetics. And that massive SLS rocket? The winners of this contest will get to watch its first Artemis – 1 launch, so get creative and start writing now! J

Brainstorming Idea
Your Imagination

NASA has been hard at work developing a plan to go back to the moon, you can read all about it here Artemis Program, but there is no idea too big or too small, or invention too crazy or far-fetched when it comes to space exploration. We can’t wait to hear how you would explore the Moon!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Digital Tools

Build & Iterate

FOR THE CLASSROOM

Group Size

Split into 8 teams

Approach

Assign each team a video lesson and have them present what they learned

Material

None

Educator tools

 

An education program for
the Innovators of Tomorrow

The Artemis Moon Pod Essay Contest is presented in support of NASA's Artemis program. The student challenge is part of NASA's efforts to engage the public in its missions to the Moon and Mars. NASA is returning to the Moon for scientific discovery, economic benefits, and inspiration for a new generation. Working with its partners throughout the Artemis program, the agency will fine-tune precision landing technologies and develop new mobility capabilities that allow robots and crew to travel greater distances and explore new regions of the Moon. On the surface, the agency has proposed building a new habitat and rovers, testing new power systems and much more to get ready for human exploration of Mars. Charged with returning to the Moon in the next four years, NASA’s Artemis program will reveal new knowledge about the Moon, Earth, and our origins in the solar system.

In Support of NASA's Artemis Program