News for Crews — Mark your calendar for ROADS on Asteroids results!! 🗓

G’day, ROADS crews!

IT’S FINALLY TIME.  Mark your calendars for the ROADS on Asteroids Top Teams announcement.  Results will be posted to the NESSP website on Wednesday, September 8, 2021, when it strikes 12 o’clock noon in Seattle.

We know, it’s been ages since you’ve heard from us.  Dr. Winglee’s death left us very short-handed — a problem that snowballed as the year went by and tasks accreted like cosmic dust in the corners.  We are so sorry to leave you hanging for so long.  And we’re very excited to be able to bring ROADS on Asteroids, Dr. Winglee’s final NESSP challenge, to a close.

So, once again, keep your browsers at the ready for the announcement!

When:  Wednesday, September 8, 2021, 12 p.m. (Pacific Daylight Time)

See you then!

A Bitmoji shows NESSP founding director, Dr. Robert Winglee, in rocketship.

Summer science is here!

For summer 2021, NESSP is pleased to offer several mini-missions for use in your summer camp activities in July and August.

This year we’re offering two formats to support your summer activities. We are continuing to loan supplies if you will be using NESSP activities in your camp (what we’re calling Self-Directed Mini-Missions). New for 2021 — we are offering NESSP Guided Mini-Missions, where your students log onto Zoom for a half-day virtual session with a NESSP facilitator. Supplies will still be provided if you need them for your NESSP Guided session!

Details and the registration form are available now. If you would like to run multiple mini-missions for your students, please DO NOT complete the registration form and email us directly instead.

It takes about two weeks to process and ship your supplies, so register (or email us) ASAP!

Announcing summer professional development for teachers

For summer 2021, NESSP is pleased to offer several professional development sessions for teachers — including a long-awaited return to an in-person workshop format for one of the sessions! As with our PD sessions last year, our summer 2021 sessions will take place over two days.

All sessions are free and supplies will be provided, although participants will need to provide their own computer (and internet connection, in the case of virtual workshops).

Learn hands-on STEM activities to engage middle and high school -aged students! Topics to be covered support NGSS and are aligned with NASA missions. Projects are relevant to our new ROADS challenge for the upcoming 2021–2022 school year — or can supplement your existing course.

These workshops will cover the curriculum for the companion course to our next ROADS student challenge, and as such the sessions are intended for educators currently teaching in classrooms. We will hold a workshop intended specifically for coaches/mentors of ROADS challenge teams at a later date.

Details and registration are on our website. The registration form gives you the chance to rank your preferences for choice of workshop date. We will try to put everyone into their first preference! But we do expect that the in-person workshop will be quite popular (while also having the most limited capacity), so some registrants will be placed into their second choice.


  • August 6–7, 2021 — Virtual workshop
  • August 12–13, 2021 — In-person workshop in Adrian, OR
  • August 16–17, 2021 — Virtual workshop

ROADS News for Crews, April 28 — Submissions DUE!

G’day, ROADS crews!

We’re approaching the end of our mission — your final submissions are DUE APRIL 30.  That’s this Friday!

Remember that your submission will include the following materials (please read the complete instructions on the final submissions web page):

  1. Mission Development Log (MDL)
  2. Mission video
  3. Scoresheet

We’ve had a few questions about the scoresheet, so here are some tips:

  • Use the tab called “Challenge Scoresheet” (ignore all other tabs).
  • Add your team’s number and name in the cells at the top.
  • Each score-able item has a drop-down list.  Select one of the items on the drop-down to enter the score.

(More instructions and tips can be found on the following webpage: How to complete the ROADS on Asteroids scoresheet for challenge submissions)

But don’t stress too much about the scoresheet!  Our judges use it as a double-check when scoring your MDL and video, so we do need to have it and it truly is helpful, but it is definitely not the final say on your team’s score.

If you have questions, please drop us an email.  We’ll be available to provide answers on final submissions up until 5 p.m. in Seattle, WA, (Pacific Daylight Time) on Friday, April 30.

Do your best and good luck!  And remember, if all else fails — wing it like Winglee.

ROADS News for Crews, March 30 — Final deadline adjusted

G’day, ROADS crews!

We have good news for you!

Final submissions — NOW DUE April 30, 2021
We weren’t giving you enough time to finalize your submissions, and so we’ve pushed out the deadline to Friday, April 30, 2021.  Thank you to everyone who wrote in about it!

The submissions portal will be open later this week.

Reminder: Chat with an expert — Thursday, April 1, 2021
How do scientists study asteroids? Join us to chat with NASA scientist Nicole Lunning to learn about exciting missions to asteroids (OSIRIS-REx, Dawn & more!) and how scientists investigate samples returned by spacecraft as well as meteorites in laboratories at the NASA Johnson Space Center.

This chat will be a Zoom webinar. You do not need to be registered with Zoom to join us — you can select “Join from browser” from the loading screen.

ROADS News for Crews, March 28 — Chat with an Expert “Investigating Asteroids”

G’day, ROADS crews!

We have an expert chat coming up that you will not want to miss — it’s all about how scientists study asteroids!  Hope to see you on Thursday, April 1.

Chat with an expert — Thursday, April 1, 2021
How do scientists study asteroids? Join us to chat with NASA scientist Nicole Lunning to learn about exciting missions to asteroids (OSIRIS-REx, Dawn & more!) and how scientists investigate samples returned by spacecraft as well as meteorites in laboratories at the NASA Johnson Space Center.

This chat will be a Zoom webinar. You do not need to be registered with Zoom to join us — you can select “Join from browser” from the loading screen.

Checkpoint challenges — Scoring will wrap up soon!
Thank you for all of your amazing submissions for the checkpoint challenges!  We will wrap up scoring soon.  Keep an eye out for prize announcements.

Final submissions — Submissions portal opening this week
Materials for your final submissions for ROADS on Asteroids will be due on Saturday, April 10, 2021.  The submission portal will open this week — when it’s ready, we’ll email you with details.

ROADS News for Crews, Feb. 22 — Checkpoint Challenges final extension!

G’day, ROADS crews!

Thank you all for your patience and your kind emails as our office moved forward after Dr. Winglee’s death.  Our ROADS this year may have gotten off to a bumpy start, but we know that Robert would have been so pleased to see all of you continuing on with meeting your Mission Objectives.

We are holding open our Checkpoint Challenge submissions portals for just a few more days to make sure all teams have had a chance to upload their materials.  You can find links to each Checkpoint Challenge’s page here:

For Checkpoint Challenge numbers 1 and 2, remember that you’re creating a video where you’ll show your experimentation and discuss your team’s processes and findings.  That’s it!  No supplemental material needed.

For Checkpoint Challenge #3, you’ll be creating an image of your team’s mission patch and providing a short, written explanation of the patch’s design.  You can combine these into one single document, or you can upload them as two separate pieces — one an image of the patch and one a written document of your patch’s explanation.

Deadline — Thursday, February 25, 2021
We will keep the submissions portals open through Thursday night, but on Friday we’ll collate submissions for all the checkpoints and send them off to our judges for scoring.

Top teams in NASA-sponsored challenge make their own Mars landing

By Chris Wallish
Northwest Earth and Space Sciences Pipeline

As NASA and space enthusiasts around the world prepare for the Perseverance rover’s landing on Mars this week, seven student teams from across the U.S. have achieved their own impressive mission success — in ROADS on Mars, the 2019–2020 NASA National Student Challenge.

The Northwest Earth and Space Sciences Pipeline (NESSP), the program behind the ROADS student challenges, is excited to announce the following four teams that achieved top prizes:

Top Teams

  • Ares Bobcats — A Curiosity Division (high school) team from the Cienega Astronomy STEM Club in Vail, Arizona
  • The New von Brauns — A Curiosity Division (high school) team from Lewiston High School in Lewiston, Idaho
  • Lunar Ladies — A Curiosity Division (high school) team from Gardiner Middle School in Oregon City, Oregon
  • Sunray Bobcats Ares X-plorer — An Opportunity Division (middle school) team from Sunray Middle School in Sunray, Texas

NESSP also recognized three teams for overall mission excellence:

Mission Excellence

  • Kerbal Krew — A Curiosity Division (high school) team from Spearfish Robotics Club in Spearfish, South Dakota
  • DAB’EM — An Opportunity Division (middle school) team from Roosevelt Elementary in Port Angeles, Washington
  • Lil Einsteins — A Curiosity Division (high school) team from Western Aerospace Scholars in Spokane Valley, Washington

Top Teams teams received trophies commemorating their achievements, and all awarded teams received official NASA certificates, with additional prizes and recognition coming this spring. Other teams were recognized for excellence at various mini-challenges ranging from searching for signs of life in their communities to designing a mission patch for their team.  A complete list of winners can be found at:

“We are so inspired by the students who persevered to complete the ROADS on Mars Challenge during this difficult year,” said Mary Denmon, NESSP acting director. “It took a lot of hard work and team effort to complete their mission for ROADS on Mars.  I hope we see these students continue on with the skills they’ve learned and continue to contribute to NASA endeavors.”

The ROADS on Mars challenge, which kicked off in autumn 2019, followed in the mission steps of NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover. Like Perseverance, the ROADS challenge incorporated biological and geological concepts, such as identifying biosignatures (signs of life invisible to the human eye) and investigating both how craters are formed and the effects of erosion on a landscape.

The challenge was to culminate with in-person final events around the country in April, but things took a turn for the virtual as shelter-in-place orders to curb the spread of COVID-19 began affecting communities and schools. In summer 2020, NESSP implemented a strategy for teams to complete the last activities of the challenge remotely and began accepting video submissions.  Ultimately, 27 teams were able to complete the challenge and submit final materials.

Reflecting on the difficulty of missions to Mars, Kristen Erickson, NASA Science Engagement and Partnership Director, said: “We can’t predict today how the landing will go tomorrow, but we have prepared as much as we know how — just like students did in their Mars challenges.  If we are successful tomorrow, our ROADS teams will have an appreciation for the hard work that goes into such an endeavor because they did it too!”


More information is at

Members of the media can contact communications officer Chris Wallish at 206-221-7743 or

ROADS on Mars mini-challenge winners — Mission Patch

We are very pleased to announce the prize-winning teams of the Mission Patch mini-challenge. This goal of this challenge was:

To get creative and design a mission patch that represents themselves, their community, and their mission in the ROADS Challenge.

Congratulations, ROADS teams!!


TS River City Team — an Opportunity division team from University of Idaho TRIO in Coeur d’Alene, ID.

Our patch is designed to reflect three things: who we are, what our goal is, and where we come from. In our community we are the River City Titans, so we wanted to tie our name into that and we decided that our team name would be Titans’ Journey to Mars or TJTM for short. The lego spaceman on Mars is centered around the overall mission of making it to and exploring MARS! Lastly, the world in the background reminds us that we come from another planet. Earth is our home.


Golden Space Knights — An Opportunity division team from Hyde Park Middle School in Las Vegas, NV.

The base structure is made of a knight’s helmet, derived from the team’s name, Golden Space Knights. In the bottom portion of the helmet is a Desert Bighorn Sheep, Nevada’s state animal, gazing up at the sky. This symbolizes our community’s support for future expansion into space. Notice how a rocket, similar to the ones that have carried previous rovers, is soaring above the sky. This represents our mission to reach Mars to search for evidence of previous life.


Spatium Apes — A Spirit division team from Gervais Elementary School in Gervais, OR.

Science Rovers — An Opportunity division team from Clackamas ESD in Clackamas, OR.

Helios — A Curiosity division team from South Eugene High School in Eugene, OR.


Sunray Bobcats Ares X-plorer — An Opportunity division team from Sunray Middle School in Sunray, TX.

The Sunray Bobcats Ares X-plorers are busy preparing for their ROADS on Mars 2020 Mission. SBAX designed their patch to represent the important factors of our school. Our school colors are royal blue, or as we call it “Bobcat Blue”, and gold. We put the outer perimeter our school colors with our names, logo “SBAX”, and mission “ROADS on Mars”. The Bobcat astronaut is our school mascot. The “Cats” flag is flown on game days in Sunray, TX, so proudly will it fly on Mars for our victory of being there. We wanted everyone to know that we are explorers, and our flag is planted on Mars surface to show we are here!!! The Earth is in the background which is where our journey began and our home to return.

ROADS News for Crews — Chat with a Mars Perseverance specialist on Thursday, Feb. 11! 🗓

G’day, ROADS crews!

The Perseverance rover is just days away from its scheduled landing on Mars! NESSP is very excited to welcome Trevor Graff from NASA Johnson Space Center for one of our expert chats. Trevor was project manager for flight hardware on the rover, and he’ll take us on an exploration of the rover’s scientific instruments, discuss details on its preparations for launch, and take us on a look at Perseverance’s upcoming landing on Mars.

Mars Perseverance — Get Ready to Explore!

This chat will be a Zoom webinar. You do not need to be registered with Zoom to join us — you can select “Join from browser” from the loading screen.

See you soon!