Published online and in print at NTDaily.com on 5/4/17
Forget about living on Mars, Joanna Feaster, a UNT Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science junior, already has plans to settle Mercury.
In just 21 hours, Feaster and her team of 50 students designed a hypothetical settlement for humans to live sustainably on Mercury. She is one of 12 students who is moving on to the international competition at the International Space Settlement Design Competition this summer in Florida.
“Now that I’ve experienced it, I’m excited to put my new ideas out there and make it a whole lot better,” Feaster said.
Feaster and three other students from the TAMS program attended the regional Space Settlement Design Competition at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston in March where the 200 attendees were split up into teams of 50 and each given the task of developing plans for the potential settlement of the planet.
The teams had four subcommittees, each in charge of an important aspect of settlement: architecture, food, air supply and automation. Only getting an hour of sleep in the 21-hour competition, Feaster served as vice president for her team, making sure all the groups communicated with each other efficiently.
“We were given a bunch of statistics and requirements,” Feaster said. “It needs to be constantly moving, it needs to house this many people, have this kind of machinery, it needs to have these supplies, and so on…”
Feaster heard about the program through a TAMS senior who attended the competition last year. The TAMS program is an accelerated academic program for gifted high schoolers giving students the opportunity to live on UNT’s campus and start their college career early.
Since fall 2016, Feaster has been enrolled in the High School Aerospace Scholars online learning module through NASA where she studies mathematics, science, engineering and computer science from NASA engineers. Feaster applied and wrote a letter to her state senator who admitted her into the program.
Originally from Friendswood, Texas, Feaster went to the Johnson Space Center for summer camp as a kid, sparking her love for aerospace.
“Since I haven’t been able to visit it in a long time going for the competition was like going home again,” Feaster said.
With paper airplanes hanging from her ceiling, she is proud of her love for space. Feaster plans to get her degree in aerospace engineering but has yet decided where she wants to go.
“I’m a little obsessed. I love space. Engineering and aerospace together makes me really happy so I hope to get a job in that field and study that.”