We're excited to announce that Ukrainian team has just been announced the winner of NASA Space Apps Challenge 2016.
The Team presented MarsHopper, a plane for exploration of Mars poles and surroundings. MarsHopper uses CO2 that covers Mars surface in solid form to create jet thrust. During landing, plane harvest CO2 for next flight and for its deceleration. On the surface plane accumulates radioisotope energy into CO2, by changing it phase from solid to supercritical fluid. Supercritical CO2 is used to create jet thrust for next jump and to create rotation of propellers to sustain flight, hence the name of plane is “hopper”.
According to ain.ua, MarsHopper team learned about their victory on May 23, i.e. 3 days before the official announcements of the results, but NASA asked the guys to keep it a secret.
"I hope NASA is interested in our project," said Oleksandr Butkaliuk, mechanical engineer and project designer. "And if it's really true, we wish Ukraine could contribute to its development as well! It was actually one of the project goals, as Ukraine possesses all of the technologies and resourced needed to bring the project to life. It'd be really great if Ukraine could take a leading position in space high-tech development."
At the moment the Team is planning to design two prototypes of its invention, one for terrestrial and the other one for stratosphere research. Besides, MarsHopper is going to attend NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on September 8, 2016.
It was hard to predict to MarsHopper victory due to the fact that the Team kept ranking #3 in People's Choice nomination until the last moment. However, after NASA had verified the voting results, the Ukrainian team showed the best result.
"Our demo has over 44,000 views on YouTube and has been the views leader since the start of the Challenge. Our competitors had only 5,000 - 6,000 views and on the last day their number of views skyrocketed to 15,000. Also, according to NASA, they analyzed Facebook traffic and our project also demonstrated the highest traffic," said Oleksandr Butkaliuk.
Before winning the NASA Space Apps Challenge, the project won two nominations in the local Ukrainian hackathon and was selected out of 128 international teams to make it to Top 5 Finalists. It was recognized the Winner as a result of global voting.
Intersog congratulates MarsHopper team on the victory and wishes successful project implementation!