GAS PhD. student Thasshwin Mathanlal selected among more than six hundred candidates all over the world to be part of the prestigious Caltech Space Challenge 2019

The Caltech Space Challenge is a top 5-Day International Student Space Mission Design Competition. It brings together 32 talented and highly-motivated students at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), in Pasadena, California, USA, to participate in a week-long space mission design competition. The participants are split into two teams and both teams work under the mentorship of experts from industry, NASA and academia to design their mission concept from scratch to final proposal.

For this year edition GAS PhD. student Thasshwin Mathanlal has been chosen among more than six hundred candidates. Thasshwin considers the Challenge a unique opportunity to build technical and teamwork skills, interact with other brilliant like-minded peers from all around the world and with world-renowned experts in space exploration, and connect to like-minded peers from all around the world.

Thirty-two young talented students will face a challenge: the design of mission to Enceladus, the Saturn icy moon. Given the incomplete knowledge of Enceladus' surface and its geysers, a classic single-lander mission is too risky. But, what if the risk could be spread among multiple small, cost-effective landers? This will be the guiding question of the 2019 Caltech Space Challenge. In response, participants will create a novel mission design to probe for evidence of the presence of life on Enceladus using a network of small landers.

Thasshwin is looking forward to participating in this Challenge to create and share brilliant ideas to apply to the next knowledge space frontier. His previous experiences with the GAS group have prepared him to face this opportunity. For instance, he has already participated in the 24-hour Challenge-Hackathon of ActInSpace 2018, and he has worked in international environments with new partners and a common goal, such as in the MINAR Field Campaign in the Boulby Mine (UK).

GAS PhD. student Thasshwin Mathanlal
Copyright: GAS

Example of a small and cost effective rover: NASA JPL's PUFFER.
Image credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech

Geyser-like jets in the south polar region of Enceladus vent ice particles and gases into space, as seen in this image captured by the Cassini spacecraft.
Image credit: NASA / JPL / Space Science Institute