Madurai students win NASA’s space settlement design contest

Students of Sri Saradha Vidyalayam Matriculation Higher Secondary School in Madurai who have won third prize in the NASA Ames Space Settlement Design Contest. Photo: G. Moorthy

“Cronus-The Utopia”, a work of fiction, by five students of Sri Sarada Vidyalayam Girls Matriculation Higher Secondary School in the city has won the third prize in the NASA Ames Space Settlement Design Contest – 2014, under the Literary Merit category.

The team comprising class XI students _ S.B. Vishaka Nandini, M. Shenbagam, K. Kamali, P. Dhivya Priya and S.G. Yogalakshmi, is the only one from Tamil Nadu to have won the prize. Set in 2250 AD, the story narrates how rapid depletion of natural resources on earth forces human beings to settle in Cronus, a fictional space orbit of Saturn.

“In the recent years, depletion of natural resources in Earth is rapid. In our work of fiction, we have created Cronus, which is diverse from Earth in so many ways.

The resources available are all similar to the Earth, but those living there are well efficient in conservation of nature and are unaware of corruption and other vices prevailing here,” said Ms. Nandini.

“In contrast to the present day Earth, where waste is not managed properly and chemical fertilisers are used in agriculture, inhabitants of Cronus are very efficient in recycling waste, make best use of solar and wind power, and use bio fertilisers in their aeroponic farms,” explained Ms. Yogalakshmi.

The NASA Ames Space Settlement Design Contest is conducted since 1994 and this is the first time the school took part in it, said B. Kanagalakshmi, a teacher in the school.

The competitions were conducted under different categories such as Artistic Merit, Literary Merit and Projects on Space Settlement.

Under the Literary Merit category, there is a tie between Arecibo Observatory Space Academy, Puerto Rico, and Ryan International School, New Delhi, for the first prize. For the second prize, there is a tie between Sri Chaitanya Techno School and Rajiv Gandhi University of Knowledge Technologies (RGUKT), both from Andhra Pradesh. The prizes would be distributed to the students at Los Angeles in May.

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