‘Irish Moonquakers’ win NASA Space Apps Challenge in Dublin

24 Oct 2023

The Irish Moonquakers team. From left: Alexander Nuzum, Rajratan Wankhade, Rabin Williams and Wilson Cheung.

The team designed a 3D map that can be used to predict earthquakes on the moon and is now able to compete for a global award.

An interactive app that can map lunar earthquakes has taken the top prize at NASA’s 2023 Dublin Space Apps competition.

The team – called the Irish Moonquakers – designed a 3D map to visualise seismic activity on the moon, which was detected during NASA’s Apollo missions. The team competed against six other teams at the two-day hackathon event, hosted at the National College of Ireland.

Participants of the NASA International Space Apps Challenge worked as teams to solve various challenges using open-source data from NASA and its space agency partners. This year saw nearly 58,000 participants compete in events around the world.

At the Dublin hackathon, the winning team’s Cerridwen project used a 3D model of the moon to pinpoint the location of ‘moonquakes’ and classify them as shallow or deep. The team said this data can be used for forecasting future, similar events.

The team also developed their own seismograph that could help identify and classify future seismic movements. Mapping the moon’s seismic activity is important for NASA and other space agencies, particularly when it comes to the planned Artemis missions which aim to establish a base on the moon.

The Irish Moonquakers team includes Wilson Cheung, Rabin William, Rajratan Wankhade and Sanchit Bhan. The team will now have an opportunity to compete in the global award stage of the Space Apps challenge, at a NASA location in the US.

Cheung said he is “honoured” to be part of a talented team that is willing to “accept new ideas and tackle challenging problems”.

“We entered into this challenge with a diverse technical skillset and left the challenge with greater awareness of our ability to help create solutions for seemingly impossible problems,” Cheung said. “We’re grateful for having the opportunity to participate with an amazing team and are truly appreciative for the judging team’s nomination and support in our work.”

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic