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Emerson Student Among NASA Finalists

Kiki L. - NASA Contest Finalist

Katerine “Kiki” L., a first grade student from Emerson Parkside Academy, is among nine students announced as finalists of NASA’s Power to Explore Challenge

The national competition gives K-12 students the chance to learn about radioisotope power systems. Kiki was selected as a finalist from a total of 1,787 entries from 48 states and Puerto Rico. She is one of the three finalists in the Grades K-4 category.

The contest challenges students to learn about NASA’s use of radioisotope power systems (RPS), also known as “nuclear batteries,” to power its famous missions in the darkest parts of the solar system. NASA’s RPS has enabled many spacecraft to conduct missions that would have been impossible in total darkness. 

Students were asked to write a short essay describing a new RPS-powered space mission to a destination with limited light along with a special power that would aid them in accomplishing their mission. 

In her essay, Kiki describes her dream mission to explore Kraken Mare, the largest lake on Saturn’s famous moon, Titan.

 “Welcome to my spacecraft Chicken-fly. Our mission is to explore Kraken Mare, the Titan’s largest lake,” she wrote. “It will take us seven years to get there. Too far way? No worries. My spacecraft is powered by NASA’s RPS. It’s a nuclear battery that can last for 14+ years.”

“Once we land on the lake, we will send our fishy bots down to survey and take pictures of the lakebed. Then, our bots will use a laser gun to drill holes and collect soil/mineral samples from those holes. Our purpose is to learn how Lake Kraken forms,” she continues.

Kiki also explains her unique self-taught skill that would help her mission succeed. 

“I had put my right wrist in a cast for a month, but I love writing and doing crafts, so I started training myself to do everything with my left hand. Now, I can write perfectly with both hands. I believe that I can persist and overcome any obstacles to complete my mission to explore our solar system,” she said.

As a finalist, Kiki will receive an RPS prize pack from NASA and an exclusive virtual session with a NASA RPS expert. 

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