Thursday, September 24, 2015

Xtronaut: The game of solar system exploration

A University of Arizona professor has combined his expertise in space mission planning and technology with his passion for strategy gaming to create Xtronaut: The Game of Solar System Exploration.
The Xtronaut game, developed by Professor Dante Lauretta, captures the various challenges and excitement of planning a space mission. Lauretta co-founded Xtronaut Enterprises with space entrepreneur Michael Lyon to increase awareness of NASA's asteroid sample return mission named OSIRIS-REx.

In 2011, NASA selected the asteroid sample return mission, OSIRIS-REx – a $1 billion mission to send a robotic spacecraft to an asteroid named "Bennu", collect a sample of the asteroid, and return to Earth. Unfortunately, the education outreach budget for OSIRIS-REx was eliminated in 2013. In response, mission leader Dante Lauretta and space entrepreneur Michael Lyon founded Xtronaut Enterprises to develop innovative activities associated with space exploration.

Xtronaut gives two to four players ages seven and up the chance to develop space missions and explore the solar system. The game is based on real planetary missions and rocket science. It also contains elements of politics and strategy that are inspired by the real-life situations that space missions face. The game has been tested with players that range from elementary school students to graduate students in planetary sciences and mission scientists.

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