The recent discovery of water on the surface of Mars is celebrated with this challenge. With the assistance of NASA's lead scientist in solar system exploration, Young Scientist Challenge finalists learned how the surface topology of Mars is carefully scanned via orbiting satellites. Finalists were challenged to use computer controlled precision laser range finders to gather topographic data from scale models of actual Martian terrain.
As NASA continues planning to return to the surface of the moon, scientists again need to train themselves to live and work for extended periods in low gravity situations. In this challenge, finalists constructed, modified and operated a system capable of providing a one-sixth gravity simulation experience. In the large NASA centrifuge lab, dummy was strapped into a lunar saddle and travelled 100 feet via an overhead gantry system to perform simple tasks as might be experienced on the moon.
The uncertainties and challenges of performing even simple tasks in space conditions will be the core of this activity. Finalists employed the original training models of the Hubble Telescope to complete a complex repair mission, similar to those performed by NASA astronauts. This challenge was hosted by both a NASA Astronaut and a NASA scientist.
Prepared to show proficiency in communicating science via television, finalists rehearsed at home video presentations featuring optics, electromagnetic radiation, magnetism, thermodynamics, and basic electronics. Each presentation related to a phenomenon commonly experienced in space.
From the NASA Rocket Fuel Challenge to the 3M Heat Shield Challenge, finalists worked in pairs as their science skills were put to the test. Later, the top three student finalists were challenged to present an off-the-cuff, lighthearted science presentation in front of a live audience.
After two intense days of strutting their science stuff, the Young Scientist Challenge finalists eagerly awaited the announcement of Americaâ€™s Top Young Scientist and DENâ€™s Teacher of the Year. Congratulations, Melissa Rey and Edward Evans!