MILLBURN, NJ — For a team of students at Millburn High School, it's three, two, one, liftoff, as the group was selected as a Top Team in NASA’s App Development Challenge (ADC) led by the Johnson Space Center’s Office of STEM Engagement.

According to a release from the school, “Team Moon Millers” included six members of the Advanced Space Exploration club: Aryan Dugar, Smit Kapadia, Devdutt Nadkarni, Liadain O’Toole, Eliana Ries, and Sahil Shah.

MHS Chemistry and Space Exploration teacher John Yi served as the Lead Teacher for the challenge. Yi was also the teacher for the space exploration class at Millburn, in which Eli Nadell submitted his naming suggestion for the newest Mars Rover last January, making it to the semifinal round.

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After working on their app for seven weeks, Team Moon Millers submitted a video demonstrating their app as well as their outreach efforts. The team then advanced to the next round of the challenge, which involved presenting their app in an interview with engineers and scientists working with NASA’s Space Communications and Navigation (SCaN) team.

As a top team, Team Moon Millers will participate in the ADC Virtual Culminating Event on Feb. 16 and 17, 2021. The virtual culminating event will provide the team an opportunity to participate in NASA unique opportunities, meet industry leaders and then have their work highlighted in presentations to NASA leadership. 

NASA’s App Development Challenge is a coding challenge as part of the agency’s Next Gen STEM Project where NASA presents technical problems to middle and high school students seeking student contributions to future exploration missions. By responding to the App Development Challenge, students take a part directly in the Artemis Generation endeavors to land American astronauts, including the first woman and the next man, on the Moon by 2024.

In this ADC, students worked in teams to develop an app that visualizes the South Pole region of the Moon and displays essential information for navigation and communication. This year’s challenge was created in collaboration with NASA’s Space Communications and Navigation (SCaN) team to directly support upcoming mission planning and training activities. NASA’s SCaN team serves as the Program Office for all of NASA’s space communications activities that are essential to the operations of NASA's space flight missions.

Millburn’s Space Exploration team won the NASA App Development Challenge in 2019 and earned an all expenses paid trip to Kennedy Space Center. In 2020 the team won the NASA ROADS on Mars Freestyle Challenge in which they replicated the mission objectives of the NASA Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover.

The team’s video can be found here: , and a replay of the live announcement can be found here: .