Trinity student wins space challenge prize

A Trinity postgraduate student has won an international competition thanks to his video about how space technology can help life on earth. Materials Science doctoral student Matthew Riding won first prize in the Virgin Galactic Unite Challenge for a video produced with fellow student Diana Avadanii.

As first-place winners, the pair will receive a trip to the Virgin Galactic spaceport in California, along with a cash prize.

Galactic Unite is a Virgin Galactic outreach initiative which aims to make space and the study of space technology open to everyone. The Galactic Unite Challenge asked university students to produce a three-minute video answering the question ‘How could space exploration help life on earth?’

Matthew’s video answer to the challenge question was to describe the potential benefits of getting natural resources from space, instead of from the Earth. It suggested that advanced space exploration technologies could let humans extract precious metals, rare isotopes and even fuels from extra-terrestrial objects.  The video suggested this might not only enable widespread use of materials that are rare on Earth but abundant elsewhere in the solar system, but end the degradation of Earth’s natural environment in pursuit of resources.

Matthew said: ‘The competition motivated me to properly research a topic I had been interested in for a while, since discussing it with one of my lecturers here at the University.  I really enjoyed the process of thinking about the future from the point of view of my subject, Materials Science, and the possibilities that could dramatically impact our civilisation.  I was also really excited to collaborate with a student from a different department than my own here at the University.

‘The administrative staff at my department were so supportive and helped me reach out for help from a student at the Earth Sciences department.  Combining knowledge & perspective from our different subjects made for such an enjoyable, creative process.  I am really looking forward to the trip!’

Posted: 25 January 2019

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