This is a a project I did for the Challenger Center, an educational group that teaches kids about science, technology, engineering and math by sticking them in a simulated space station or NASA mission control room and giving them simulated math and engineering challenges, like Space Camp. When I was little, I was fascinated by 3-2-1 Contact episodes about astronauts and Space Camp, so it’s very fun to be working on something similar today.
Over the last few years I’ve created a bunch of bits and pieces for the Challenger Center; various planetary maps, cockpit animations, some models to be 3D printed in their labs, but this was the first major scenario I got to. In this mission, the students fly a routine spacecraft mission to observe an an incoming comet, where they find that a comet fragment is on a collision course with Earth. They have to assemble the CPU of a new probe that is then launched from the ISS to intercept the comet and try to deflect it using the thrust from an ion drive.