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NASA Joins MIT and DARPA for Out-of-This-World Student Robotic Challenge



Jan. 18, 2012

Ann Marie Trotta 
Headquarters, Washington 
202-358-1601 
ann.marie.trotta@xxxxxxxx 

Caroline McCall
MIT, Cambridge, Mass.
617-253-1682
cmccall5@xxxxxxx 

MEDIA ADVISORY: M12-010

NASA JOINS MIT AND DARPA FOR OUT-OF-THIS-WORLD STUDENT ROBOTIC CHALLENGE

WASHINGTON -- NASA will join the Defense Advanced Research Projects 
Agency (DARPA), the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and 
high school student teams from the U.S. and abroad for the third 
annual Zero Robotics SPHERES Challenge on Monday, Jan. 23. The event 
will take place on the MIT campus in Cambridge, Mass., and be 
broadcast live on NASA Television from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. EST. 

For the competition, NASA will upload software developed by high 
school students onto Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, 
Experimental Satellites (SPHERES), which are bowling ball-sized 
spherical satellites aboard the International Space Station. The top 
27 teams from previous competitions will have their code sent Monday 
to the space station, where an astronaut will command the satellites 
to execute the teams' flight program. During a simulated mission, the 
teams will complete a special challenge inspired by future satellite 
technologies, such as formation flight and close proximity 
operations. 

Student finalists will be able to see their flight program live in the 
televised finals. The team with the highest software performance over 
several rounds of the competition will win the challenge. The winning 
team will be awarded certificates and a SPHERES flight patch that was 
flown to the space station.

News media wishing to cover this event must contact Caroline McCall at 
MIT (cmccall5@xxxxxxx or 617-253-1682) by 2 p.m. EST on Friday, Jan 
20. NASA officials and members of the astronaut corps will be 
available to speak with news media after the competition.

In addition to their use in this competition, the satellites are used 
inside the space station to conduct formation flight maneuvers for 
spacecraft guidance navigation, control and docking. The three 
separate satellites that make up SPHERES fly in formation inside the 
space station's cabin. The satellites provide opportunities to test a 
wide range of hardware and software at an affordable cost. 

The SPHERES National Laboratory Facility on the station is operated 
and maintained by NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif. 

For more about the Zero Robotics program, visit: 

http://go.nasa.gov/zero-robotics

For more information about SPHERES, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/SPHERES.html 

For NASA TV schedule and video streaming information, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/nasatv 

For more information about the space station, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/station

	
-end-



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