"We're actually going to be sending people to Mars. But before we do that, we need to make sure our astronauts are going to be safe," said Rudo Kashiri of NASA.
Students at Campostella Elementary School in Norfolk will help scientists come up with a design that will safeguard astronauts from radiation exposure while traveling in the Orion spacecraft to Mars in the future.
But before astronauts can get on board, NASA will test launch the Orion for radiation exposure next fall.
"One of the biggest challenges we still have right now is radiation. So, the challenge the students are going to do is try to design something to protect the astronauts from radiation...They don't have an answer yet. We're hoping the answer is going to come maybe from somewhere at Campostella," said Kashiri.
Campostella Elementary is one of several schools in the Commonwealth of Virginia and around the country that will take part in this NASA challenge. Over the next few months, students at Campostella will learn more about outer space and radiation in the classroom. Then, they will use that knowledge to make their designs.
"Most people think NASA is astronauts. But we’re trying to show students that they’re engineers also. So they’re all going to be engineers, and they’re going to go through the engineering process and get to learn what engineers do in real-life," said Kashiri.
The challenge is expected to be complete by March.