UNM research team wins NASA MINDS competition

This would allow plants to grow without the help of people to take care of them.

“The scope of our project is so wide that a single discipline cannot achieve it, and we need multiple disciplines to accomplish what we are trying to achieve,” said Biraj Silwal, researcher at UNM.

Fricke said their team’s name was inspired by the Land of Enchantment.

“The astronauts really lack fresh food, and they really miss the chili peppers in particular,” he said.

“New Mexico peppers are necessary for their spice because astronauts have their heads clogged up because the water won’t drain, so it looks like they have a cold, so you want that for the ‘spice and you want that too the nice extra flavor and nutrition,’ added Hanson.

Chili House worked on this project throughout the pandemic. They said the virtual aspect has helped them connect with team members across the country. However, there were a few drawbacks.

“Custom parts that were specific to Swarmie robots that we didn’t have access to because they were locked in the labs. And so it was, it was a big hurdle for us because I basically had to work with what I had. You know, a Martian-style kind of thing, ”said Carter Frost of Cabrillo College.

This week, the UNM Chili House took home a major award.

“We were able to pitch our overall project to talk about all the different components to the NASA judges and involved in the NASA MINDS projects, and they selected ours from the seven finalists to be one of the most inspiring projects and overall well designed, ”said Stefany Olivas, head of UNM.

The students won a check for $ 5,000, but the pride of New Mexico didn’t end there.

“Of the 14 teams, on the right, seven undergraduate and seven graduate teams that were invited to be finalists on this, six of them were from higher education institutions in New Mexico,” Hanson said.


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Travis Durham

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