Laguna Beach student Taia Saurer was named by NASA on Wednesday among three winners of the Artemis Moon Pod Essay Contest for their creative visions of a pioneering journey to the Moon.
Saurer won the fifth through eighth-grade category.
Nearly 14,000 students entered the contest, each competing for the grand prize: a trip to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center where they will witness the first launch of the Artemis rocket. All of the essay entries will fly on a USB flash drive aboard the Artemis I mission, the first step in NASA’s campaign to return astronauts to the Moon and then to Mars.
In “One Week on the Moon – The Artemis Adventure,” Saurer explains her vision for the Moon Pod mission. It calls for a four-person crew – including the first woman to step onto the Moon – to build a habitat for future astronauts using a combination of lunar soil and a fibrous fungal material called mycelium.
The Moon Pod Essay Contest aligns with NASA’s Artemis Student Challenges, an ongoing collection of engineering and technological design challenges aimed at engaging students on human spaceflight and technologies.
NASA invited students to envision themselves leading a crew, or “pod,” on a mission to the Moon’s South Pole, and capture these ideas in their essays. NASA and Future Engineers, an online student platform, launched the contest in September 2020 for K-12 students nationwide.
The contest’s goal is to encourage children to think about space exploration problems needing solutions, including what tools or technologies would they bring to the Moon, who would they include in their pod of crewmembers, and what would they leave behind for future lunar crews to use?
“I want to extend my congratulations to the amazing Artemis Moon Pod Essay winners. NASA shares your excitement for humanity’s return to the Moon, and we are so inspired by your creative ideas for how to lead that expedition,” Kathy Lueders, associate administrator for the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate said in a prepared statement. “Get your boots ready, because you are the next era of space explorers – the Artemis Generation.”