The Art of Exploration
Two astronauts and a robot are visible in front of a larger rover on the moon
For three years, NASA has been working to implement new plans for future space exploration. On the eve of its 50th year, the agency is looking for artists with their own visions of the future.

Image to right: This artist's concept shows astronauts and a robot working together to explore the lunar surface. Credit: NASA

Under NASA's exploration plans, the agency will establish an outpost on the moon, where astronauts will gain knowledge to be used for missions to Mars and beyond. Work has already started on the vehicles that will be used for the return to the moon, and engineers are working on ideas for facilities for lunar exploration.

In the meantime, as the agency plans to celebrate its 50th year, it looks to student artists who can share their ideas of what future exploration might look like.

NASA's Fall 2007 University Art Contest will be themed "Life and Work on the Moon." Students of the arts, including industrial design, architecture, computer design and the fine arts, should create scenes inspired by their vision of astronauts living and working on the lunar surface during future missions. Entries will be judged not only on creativity and originality, but also on realism. Students are strongly encouraged to research the harsh lunar environment and NASA's plans for lunar exploration. Suggested resources are listed on the contest Web site, and several NASA scientists and engineers will be available for e-questions. Students may also collaborate with those in technical disciplines at their home campus.

Artist's concept showing two astronauts in white suits working with equipment on the moon
Image to left: In this artist's concept, two lunar astronauts set up a worksite with scientific equipment that will help collect essential data. Credit: NASA

Two-dimensional, three-dimensional and digital art may be entered. All art must first be submitted electronically, per the guidelines on the contest Web site. The deadline for college entries is Dec. 1, 2007. Details on eligibility and specific submission guidelines will be available on the contest Web site.

The grand prize winner will receive a cash prize of at least $1,000. Cash prizes will also be awarded in each category, along with certificates of achievement. In addition, selected works will be displayed at NASA facilities around the nation. A public online gallery is also planned.

The goal of the contest is to promote cross-disciplinary awareness among students: encouraging students in the arts to learn about the science and engineering involved in exploration, while also helping students in technical disciplines to appreciate the arts. Presenting a tangible vision of future missions can help inspire those who will carry out space exploration for the next 50 years. A high school edition of the contest is planned for the spring of 2008 and will be announced in October 2007.

Related Resources
+ University Art Contest

+ NASA's Future

+ NASA Education Web Site
Through the University Art Contest, NASA continues its tradition of investing in the nation’s education programs. The project is directly tied to the agency's major education goal of strengthening NASA and the nation's future workforce. Through this and the agency's other college and university efforts, NASA will identify and develop the critical skills and capabilities needed to bring about the future of space exploration.

David Hitt/NASA Educational Technology Services