A Toronto High School student team has won the International SpaceCRAFT Exploration Challenge.
The six-day competition saw 195 school students aged between 12 and 17 from 25 schools in Australia, Egypt and the USA participate in a virtual international space race to fictional planet, Vulcan, and complete six interactive activities and accompanying lessons.
RDA Hunter - its ME program sponsored seven local student teams - said the students were mentored by subject-matter-experts including astronauts, scientists and engineers directly involved in current space missions at organisations including NASA.
"Students were tutored in such areas as space science, spacecraft design, orbits and planetary observations and robotic and EVA exploration and tasked to design a space craft, navigate to and land on other planets, build planetary habitats and explore planets for life sustaining resources," RDA Hunter said in a statement.
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"They implemented the specifically-designed software package, SpaceCRAFT, which provides a high fidelity simulation of the universe, including real planetary data from NASA/JPL [Jet Propulsion Laboratory] and correct physics for models of space and planetary environments, to deliver their solutions."
The Toronto High team won first place overall and student Sebastian Hornsby won a perseverance award.
The St Philip's Christian College Newcastle team placed third in their division and fifth overall.
Toronto High's head of Technological and Applied Science Peter Chapman said the students' dedication and perseverance was "absolutely outstanding".
"The activities certainly challenged their technical and critical-thinking skills but Chris, Finn, Sebastian and William excelled," Mr Chapman said.
"To have won the challenge against such fierce competition is an exceptional result that gives our students confidence to continue their iSTEM and engineering studies and has excited them for the future."
Toronto student Sebastian Hornsby said the challenge had been fun and informative.
"I enjoyed listening to the talks from previous astronauts, as well as the Australian robotics expert from JPL, Ben Morel," he said.
"It has helped me realise why this is an excellent avenue for me to pursue later on in life."
St Philip's head of iSTEM and Engineering Studies Dave Bonzo was "amazed" by his year seven team.
"The competition was not easy, with challenges such as optimising fuel usage on transfer orbits between planets," he said, adding the software platform allowed students to collaborate while working independently on their daily mission goals.
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