High School Students Operate Robotic Satellites on International Space Station

SPHERES Competition LogoOn Friday, Jan. 11th, high school students from around the world joined in fierce competition to claim the championship spot in the Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites, or SPHERES, Zero Robotics High School Tournament 2012. The young competitors operated robotic satellites aboard the International Space Station, or ISS, using programs they wrote in preparation for the event. The finalists watched the action via live downlink from the space station with anticipation, as astronauts supervised the satellites during the ISS Finals.

The finals event followed three months of online simulation competitions, during which the initial pool of 96 teams from the United States and 47 teams from Europe was narrowed to nine and six alliances, respectively. Each alliance consisted of three different teams of high school students that joined forces in November 2012 to collaborate and write the best computer programs to run on the SPHERES aboard the space station.

To read more about the ZERO Robotics challenge, visit https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/news/zero_robotics.html.

To get your math students involved in using robotics to discover algebra concepts, check out the NASA Explorer Schools lesson: Algebraic Equations: Calculator Controlled Robots. The lesson can be found on the NES Virtual Campus at http://explorerschools.nasa.gov.