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AAST Students’ Growth is Out of This World

May 17, 2023

AAST Moon GraphicCongratulations to the AAST students who won at the state and national levels in the Plant the Moon Challenge, a competition by the Institute of Competition Sciences in partnership with NASA’s Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute and the NASA Space Grant Regional Expansion Project.

Participants in the competition joined a global science experiment and research challenge to examine how vegetable crops can grow in lunar or Martian soil. Each team received real soil simulant from the Exolith Lab at the University of Central Florida’s Center for Lunar & Asteroid Surface Science. Teams had to design and conduct experiments using this simulant to grow crops for a future long-duration mission.

Students in AAST’s Astronautics Engineering Applications course and its Clean Energy Innovations course competed in the challenge this semester. AAST teams won three out of the four awards for the state-level high school challenge, and one of the teams won nationally as the Best in Show for Experimental Design in the high school category and was named the top overall high school team! 

The winning team’s members are Julia Cortese, Philipp Rauhut, Jackson Sauls, Joseph Angelino, and Daniel Aldana, and their teacher sponsor is Katie Thompson, who teaches math and aerospace technology. This team will fly to the Kennedy Space Center this summer to represent South Carolina in the national competition.