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Exploration through Navigation Challenge
Welcome to the Winter/Spring 2009 NASA Quest Challenge!
Explore Earth and Space Navigation Part II:
Charting a Course to the Moon
Final Webcast: Thursday, 5/7/09

Navigation Challenge logo

In Part I of this Challenge, students were tasked to chart a course from the Big Island of Hawai’i to Rapa Nui (Easter Island) using ocean navigation skills used in early Polynesian exploration. See
Participation in Part I, while helpful, is not a requirement for Part II.

Now, in Part II of the Challenge, students will be tasked to chart a course from Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, Florida to one of the lunar poles using navigation skills appropriate for outer space. For this task, students will submit their navigation plan (as a class) to NASA experts for review. At the end of the Challenge, students will be asked to compare and contrast methods of navigating on Earth (at sea) and in space. For both parts of the Challenge, the essential question used to keep students on task is “How do you stay on course?”

See the growing calendar of events below for planning purposes. Weekly challenge questions will be posed for 5 - 8th grade students to compete for prizes to deliver the best answer to us first.

Calendar of Events

Winter/Spring -- PART II: Charting a Course To the Moon
(Educator Guide Available to Registered Teachers)
As soon as you are registered.

Begin preparation, understanding:

Educator Guide is now available in .pdf format to registered participants

Task: Students will be guided in charting a course from Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, Florida to one of the lunar poles using navigation skills appropriate for outer space.

See also growing list of links to other online resources for research purposes.

February 25
Opening Webcast
webcast iconWatch the Archive

Watch the archive of this hour-long, informative webcast designed to help you in your exploration.

Astronomer Brian Day and Science Journalist and Space Historian Andrew Chaikin help students learn more about navigation in Space.

March 30
Noon PDT
3 p.m. Eastern

Classes submit navigation plan to NASA
(template on pp. 27 & 28 in educator guide, also available here in .doc and .pdf formats.) -- See online instructions on how to submit your designs

Preliminary designs were posted online in the order received

April 1
webcast icon

8:30 - 9:30 a.m.

Midway Point Q&A Webcast for help along the way as you refine your design.
The chat room is up and linked. You may post your questions at any time before or during the webcast. We will answer as many question as time permits.

If you are unable to take part in the live webcast, you can submit questions in advance to the chat room or send to: and watch the archived video at a later time.


Beginning April 1:
A Problem Situation!

(this is not an April Fool's joke!)

Off Course!
You are the navigation officer on the LCROSS mission control team. You have just received new tracking data that says the spacecraft is off course and will miss its impact point by 10 kilometers! That is to say, the spacecraft will fall 10 kilometers short of the target crater. The Webcast April 1 introduced a problem scenario that is optional for students who like to take on a challenge.

Student and Teacher detailed instructions are available on pages 31 - 40 of the Educator Guide. This new challenge may be adjusted to student level.

Weekly during the Challenge

Challenge Questions

Congratulations to the Winners:

Question #1: Bern Homeschool, Oakland California
Question #2: Ms. Stoica's 9F class
Question #3: Jacob and Kenny from Ms. Nelson's class
Question #4: Ms. Stoica's 9I class
Question #5: Rogers Home School
Question #6: Ms Stoica's 7class

See solutions to all challenge questions on the Question page

April 27

Deadline: Receive student final submissions and post to website
Sending Materials for the Website

Final designs are being posted in the order received

May 7
Final Webcast:

webcast icon

10 a.m. Pacific
1 p.m. Eastern
1700 UT (GMT)

Join us as experts comment on your designs, including:

  • Remarks from our expert panel,
  • Astronomical content from Astronomer Brian Day, and
  • Overall route and special considerations from Andy Chaikin

Visit the webpage to test your system well ahead of time to avoid missing this Closing Webcast.

Through end of May

We value your comments! After you have watched the Webcast, we would appreciate your feedback at Teacher Post-Challenge Survey

Certificates will be made available to those who have completed the challenge.

June 1

Drawing for the Lunar meteorite (Achondrite) from amongst the classrooms that have completed their Navigational designs and have contributed to the evaluation portion of this challenge by filling in the Post-challenge Survey.

And the winners are:

Lunar meteorite to: Ms. Jamison's Sixth Grade, Workman Middle School, FL

Tektite to: Ms. Purrell's 3 teams of 7th & 8th Graders, Numa Elementary, NV

Tektite to: Ms. Stoica's 3 teams from TUDOR VIANU National High School of Computer science, Romania

 FirstGov  NASA

Editor: Linda Conrad
NASA Official: Liza Coe
Last Updated: October 2008