NASA will join the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and students from the U.S. for the Zero Robotics Spheres Challenge. This competition will be held on the MIT campus in the U.S. on Jan. 23, 2012.
High school students have come up with a software that will be uploaded by NASA onto Synchronised Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites or SPHERES, which are spherical satellites, the size a of bowling ball, aboard the International Space Station (ISS). They are used to perform formation flight operations supporting spacecraft guidance control, navigation and docking, within the cabin of the space station. Teams of students will send their codes to the space station, wherein astronauts will command the satellites to execute the flight programs. Students will be required to finish a unique challenge in a simulated exercise, inspired by formation flight maneuvers, and finalists will be able to watch their flight program live on the T.V.
The team with the best software performance will win. The winners will be awarded with a SPHERES flight patch and certificates.
The MIT Space System Laboratory and astronaut Greg Chamitoff created Zero Robotics Competition in 2009. Their main goal was to encourage students to develop an interest in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math. In 2010, more than 200 students from 19 U.S. states participated in this event.