Lincoln Pius X Catholic High School

Gutierrez earns honor in space-themed essay contest

Amanda Gutierrez, a freshman at Pius X, has been named a semifinalist in the Artemis Moon Pod Essay Contest by Future Engineers and NASA, a national competition that asked K-12 students to imagine leading a one-week expedition at the Moon’s South Pole.

Approximately 14,000 essay submissions were received from K-12 students across the country and over 1,000 eligible judge volunteers comprised of educators, professionals, and space enthusiasts helped review essays, and chose 155 semifinalists.

As a semifinalist, Amanda will receive an Artemis Prize Pack filled with space-themed prizes plus the opportunity to attend a series of virtual Artemis Explorer Sessions with NASA experts. On April 7, the contest will be narrowed to nine national finalists, who will be interviewed about their essays. In May, the grand prize winners will be announced, each of which will win a family trip to attend NASA’s Artemis I launch at Kennedy Space Center.

Here is Amanda’s essay:

“3,2, 1, …Liftoff!” I jerk backwards as 10 million pounds of thrust launch me skyward. An adventure of a lifetime is about to begin.

Dream Big Moon Pod touches down on the lunar south pole at the edge of Shackleton Crater. My crewmates, Silvanus (a chemist) and Neptune (a hydrologist), and I have traveled 250,000 miles to install and program EER, the Endothermic Electrolysis Reactor, which will provide a source of fuel and oxygen for future lunar pioneers. Through the process of electrolysis, EER collects, filters, and splits water molecules using a tubal filtration system ten feet below the lunar surface. By separating the hydrogen and oxygen, EER will provide fresh supplies of breathable oxygen for future landings. Hydrogen will be converted to fuel so that rockets will have a readily accessible source of refueling. Then it will store the finished products in pressurized tanks.

My name is Luna. I am the mission commander, the pilot, and an astronautical engineer. I designed EER and my role is to direct the effort and test the reactor. Silvanus is a chemist who specializes in splitting molecules. Neptune’s expertise is in isotope and groundwater hydrology. Using our comprehensive and diverse skill set, we will provide a practical tool that will change lunar exploration forever.

We unload EER from the moon pod, and drive to the center of the crater. We lodge it into the surface and begin testing. Suddenly, there is an implosion in the conversion-to-fuel compartment. The base of the compartment is fractured. No longer capable of conversion, I redesign the pressurized fuel tank into a converting structure. I then use an extra oxygen tank to substitute as a fuel tank. Finding no other structural flaws, I program the EER to be operational for five years.

“3,2, 1…Liftoff Moon Pod!”

The essay contest was issued in collaboration with NASA’s Artemis Program, which will land the first woman and the next man on the Moon. Using innovative technologies to explore more of the lunar surface than ever before, the Artemis Program will use what is learned on and around the Moon to take the next giant leap: sending astronauts to Mars.

As NASA sets out to inspire a whole new generation, the Artemis Generation, the essay contest invited students to imagine leading a one-week expedition at the Moon’s South Pole and to tell NASA all about it. This included writing about their expedition’s crew and technology, with an expectation of leaving their technology behind to help future astronauts explore the Moon.

On March 23rd, NASA held a virtual event, where contest participants had the opportunity to learn about space exploration from speakers including: NASA Astronaut, Ricky Arnold, Associate Administrator of NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, Kathy Lueders, and Associate Administrator of NASA’s Office of STEM Engagement, Mike Kincaid. At the conclusion of the event, the semifinalists were unveiled.

But there was one more surprise in store for all the students who submitted an entry: NASA will fly a digital copy of all 14,000 essays around the Moon aboard Artemis I.

For contest details, including a full listing of the 155 state/territory semifinalists, please visit: https://www.futureengineers.org/artemismoonpodessay

The NASA web feature can be viewed here: https://www.nasa.gov/stem/semifinal-round-of-artemis-moon-pod-essay-contest.html

About Future Engineers
Future Engineers hosts online innovation challenges for K-12 students. Previous challenges have helped produce historic achievements, from naming NASA’s Perseverance Rover to manufacturing the first student-designed 3D print in space. All challenges are offered free for student/classroom participation.

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