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College students take on 'Moon to Mars Ice and Prospecting Challenge' for NASA

It's a straightforward challenge: there are blocks of ice under soil that simulates the moon and Mars, and students have to build drills that can get some water out.

HAMPTON, Va. — Author's note: the video above is on file from April 2021.

Ten teams of college students are gearing up for a competition to design equipment that could extract water on space missions.

NASA's Moon to Mars Ice and Prospecting Challenge is happening at the Hampton Roads Convention Center on Sept. 24.

It's a straightforward setup: there are blocks of ice under soil that simulates the moon and Mars, and these students have to build drills that can get find the ice, map it and get some water out.

It's meant to help with future manned missions to those celestial bodies. NASA has found both water and ice on the moon, and underground ice on Mars.

The prospecting challenge is a yearly event, and in 2020, NASA's chief technologist Doug Terrier wrote that the competition helped all parties learn from each other.

“The ability to access water -- wherever you are -- is crucial to future human space exploration,” Terrier said. “Equally important is the willingness for NASA to continually seek fresh approaches.”

A team from Virginia Tech is the only college group representing the Commonwealth in 2021. A spokesperson said they'd be up against nine other teams.