Think of a design for future human settlements.
A science fiction enthusiast might say space colonisation, or may be even an artificially developed habitat suitable for life.
But have you given much thought to the idea of underwater settlements?
Every year, the National Space Society (NSS) in collaboration with the NASA Ames Research Centre conducts a competition inviting students from around the world to come up with design ideas for future orbital space settlements that will be capable of housing thousands of people.
This year, the Grand Prize for the Space Settlement Contest went to a two-member team comprising Shashwat Goel and Ankita Phulia from Delhi Public School, RK Puram, in New Delhi.
The award winning project, Anastasi, is an underwater settlement, which is a low cost simulation of artificial habitats in outer space. The concept was based upon an idea suggested by Aditya Sengupta, who had been the mentor for the duo, both students of the 10th standard.
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It was Aditya who came up with the idea of drawing similarities between oceans and space. He says, “I proposed this to Shashwat and Ankita as a side-research project. It was initially not intended to be submitted to the NASA Ames Contest but because the research came out quite well, they decided to submit.”
The project aims at providing an insight on the conditions of how underwater settlements that orbital space like simulated environment would function and the cohabitation of people within these habitats.
Aditya adds, “Anastasi will be a profitable venture proving the commercial viability of colonising unexplored territories. It will be located in the Dead Sea and will have immense benefits for the region as it aims to desalinate enclosed areas of the sea and introduce marine life that could not survive earlier.”
Part of the school’s Aerospace Society (Aeross) which has participated in the NASA Ames Contest since 2013, Shashwat and Ankita were more than elated at their big win.
“We were very nervous about sending an unconventional entry which was not an ‘orbital settlement in space’ and it was unbelievable when we got to know that we had won the grand prize,” they said. “Winning the prize has strengthened our belief in our work and we will further improve the concept as we hope that it becomes a reality one day and serves as an important step in the path to space colonization.”
It doesn’t just end at winning the grand prize.
Shashwat will next represent his team, among hundreds of other winning student-teacher teams from across the globe, at the National Space Society’s 36th annual International Space Development Conference.
Held to celebrate and engage people in the goal of space settlement, the event will be held at St. Louis, Missouri (USA) from May 24 to 29 where representatives present their winning projects and interact with other attendees in an effort to learn more about space exploration and discovery.
Way to go, kids!