More on Planetary Society NEO Competition

Report from the Exploration of Near-Earth Objects Objectives Workshop - Day 2 - The Planetary Society Blog: Bruce Betts gives an overview of NASA's Explore NOW workshop. Some of his notes concern a new competition planned by the Planetary Society:

I also discussed the Planetary Society's Human Mission to an Asteroid competition that will challenge people to design a human mission to an asteroid. We will have open and college design competition categories, and an essay competition for high school and below. We are currently assembling our advisory committee and partners and determining the details of the competition. Stay tuned in coming weeks and months for more information.

Speaking of competitions, at this meeting I ran into the Principal Investigator of the winning entry from the Planetary Society Apophis Mission Design competition, Mark Schaffer from SpaceWorks Engineering, Inc. Though the content will be quite different, the human asteroid mission will follow the same type of process as the Apophis competition did, and we expect lots of spectacular entries like we got for Apophis.

Bruce's slide presentation from the workshop, Public Participation in the Exploration of NEOs (PDF), offers a lot of information on the Planetary Society's experience with public participation through space prizes and competitions. This is depicted through a pyramid of prizes and participation opportunities where the base of the pyramid includes the largest number of participants for more accessible competitions and other forms of participation, and the tip of the pyramid includes the most difficult challenges and richest rewards. In this context, the presentation offers the following information, and more, about the NEO competition now under development:

TPS Human Asteroid Design Competition

  • In coming months, Planetary Society will hold an open competition to design a human mission to a near Earth asteroid.
  • Will emphasize the portions of the mission when near or on the asteroid (input invited on details) ...
  • $20K prize from Google ...
  • Doing in collaboration with NASA and other organizations and agencies ...
The open competition mentioned above is expected to be at the level of aerospace companies, while the college competition is expected to be at the level of design classes. The goals of the competition include contributions to actual NEA plans, NEO education, and making the concept of HSF missions to NEOs familiar to the public.

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