Elon Musk may be “going to the moon," soon, even if it is metaphorically, but students of a school in India may be driving the NASA’s rover on the moon, literally. Students from the Cuttack-based Navonmesh Prasar Student Astronomy Team (NaPSAT) have designed a rover to be exhibited at NASA Human Rover Exploration Challenge 2021. The ten-member student team will showcase this rover at NASA Human Rover Exploration Challenge 2021 this month. The NaPSAT is an initiative of the Navonmesh Prasar Foundation consisting of school students who are involved in building projects such as space systems, rovers, rockets, satellites, and astronomy to participate in various space events. This is also the first time that a student team from India has been selected to participate in this competition.
In November 2020, Anil Pradhan, Founder of Navonmesh Prasar Foundation shared the news on Twitter: “History is created! My students are selected for NASA Rover Challenge 2021. They are the first team in Odisha and the first school and ITI students team in India to do so.”
In April 2021, they’re well on their way to craft history.“The rover has been designed for the Artemis Mission 2024 (Moon mission) where the first woman and next man will be sent to Moon. The rover is capable of travelling on different kinds of martian terrains," a member of NaPSAT told ANI.
“Our team at Navonmesh Prasar Foundation got the selection letter on November 6 last year. Ten young students have worked hard day and night for the last eight months during the COVID pandemic to make their rover, NaPSAT 1.0 (Navonmesh Prasar Student Astronomy Team) as perfect as possible. They are determined to bring back an award from NASA to India," the member further added.
The group are focusing on building a human-powered rover that can move on the surface of the Moon and Mars. The team will design the rover so that it can carry the weight of at least two human beings, thereby making it a human-powered rover.
Odisha: Cuttack-based Navonmesh Prasar Student Astronomy Team (NaPSAT), comprising of 10 school students, designs a rover to exhibit it at Nasa Human Rover Exploration Challenge 2021. pic.twitter.com/KmPZBMd2Du— ANI (@ANI) April 11, 2021
The only catch at the moment is that the team can’t participate in the competition in person. The exhibition is taking place in Alabama in the US, but owing to Covid-19 restrictions, India’s team will not be travelling to participate there. NASA’s competition allows people to participate virtually from remote locations.