Girls dream up engineering solutions to “hack” human colonization of Mars

Once the things of science fiction, a human landing on Mars is anything numerous of today’s experts could see just before retirement. On Saturday, nearby teens seemed ahead to the next challenge: trying to keep human colonists alive on the inhospitable Pink Earth.

On Saturday, about 50 higher college and middle college women collected for the 3rd annual “hackathon” at the Academy of Our Woman of Peace, an all-girls Catholic college in North Park. Teams of ladies who began the working day as strangers brainstormed engineering answers to maintain human lifetime very long-expression on the barren, frigid surface area of Earth’s planetary upcoming-door neighbor.

“Our hope for right now is that you are able to address issues collaboratively as effectively as make some new pals,” pupil co-organizer Ainsley Savant told the teams as the function got underway.

Hackathons, a time period coined about 20 a long time in the past in the Silicon Valley, are conferences of researchers or engineers who collaborate for a working day or extended to generate a undertaking or propose a option to a problem.

On Saturday, teams of five or 6 women – quite a few from different educational facilities – were assigned to a table and offered a variety of problem that should be solved to maintain human life on Mars. The challenges involved necessities these types of as air, h2o, electricity, transportation and food stuff.

Each and every team used about 4 hrs putting with each other a presentation about their tips, then submitted them to a panel of judges. There was a present bag of assorted prizes for just about every member of the winning crew.

In a converse prior to the teams got to get the job done, keynote speaker Debra Simmons, retired chief methods engineer for the new James Webb Room Telescope, reported every single thriving mission to area necessitates quite a few, several individuals and a large sum of cooperation.

“Be a great staff member,” she stated. “Earn the respect and get paid rely on of your other crew users and you will execute a great deal.”

A single of Saturday’s groups — tasked with dreaming up a viable strength supply to electric power human colonies on the dusty, dimly-lit area of Mars — explained they were being strangers right before the hackathon.

Whilst none of the five girls experienced dreams of turning into aerospace engineers or house explorers, they leaned into the function.

Munching on Mars bar candy, the team researched the local climate on Mars and present electrical power sources that could operate devoid of constant human assistance in perilous situations.

For example, they mentioned, the wind and dust on Mars could block the panels’ gentle if dust were authorized to accumulate — and depending on individuals to clean up the gear would be harmful and impractical.

“We have to empathize with the folks who will reside there, and they are in all probability going to have other points to do than clear off solar panels,” explained Amelia Oden, 16.

A different lady on the group, Francis Aguliar, 14, wondered if the photo voltaic panels we use on Earth would do the job as effectively on Mars.

“Do the panels have to have to be a little bit extra potent for the reason that there is a lot less sunshine?” she questioned.

The ladies drew sketches of wind turbines and conical photo voltaic panels that would use gravity or maybe rotate to stay comparatively dust-no cost. They mentioned how the components to create the machines would be transported to Mars and no matter whether humans could assemble the buildings on-planet.

The team experienced fun doing work collectively, but, in the conclusion, the teams that worked on squander, h2o and apparel alternatives finished on prime. A list of winners was not immediately out there.