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Grand Prize winner of the Pacific wide ‘Space for Planet Earth Challenge’ – University of Otago

The team “Methane Mavericks” from Newham, Australia, and the University of Otago team from Dunedin, New Zealand, have been awarded the Grand Prizes in the Space for Planet Earth Challenge, an innovative competition focused on leveraging space technologies to address environmental issues.

Cristhian Delgado Fajardo and his team from the University of Otago clinched the top prize at the University level for their project “Satellite-based AI Emulators for Efficient Monitoring of Agricultural Methane Emissions in New Zealand.” Their ground-breaking work aims to enhance the monitoring and management of methane emissions from agricultural activities in New Zealand using satellite data and artificial intelligence.

In the high school category, Olivia Hedge and Khoa Anh Do of Methane Mavericks from Newham, Australia, won the Grand Prize for their project “Using Sentinel Data to Identify and Prioritize Small-scale Emissions for MethaneSat.” Their innovative approach utilizes satellite data to detect and prioritize small-scale methane emissions, contributing to the development of more effective mitigation strategies.

Six teams from New Zealand, Australia, and the Philippines competed in the Challenge finals, presenting their projects to a panel of esteemed judges from various space agencies, research institutions, and organizations. The winners were awarded cash prizes of $25,000 NZD and $8,000 NZD for the University and high school categories, respectively, along with valuable mentorship opportunities from SpaceBase.

“We are truly impressed by the calibre of work presented by these young innovators,” said Emeline Paat-Dahlstrom, CEO of SpaceBase. “Their projects demonstrate the immense potential of space technologies in addressing pressing environmental challenges, and we are confident that their research will create a lasting impact in the region.”

The Space for Planet Earth Challenge was organized by SpaceBase, a forward-thinking organization that leverages incentive prizes and space technologies to catalyse innovation and solve complex problems. The Challenge was made possible through the support of various sponsors and partners, including the Pacific Fund, K1W1, Orbica, AWS, US Embassy in New Zealand, Biome Trust, Rich Bodo through the Gift Trust, Australian Space Agency, New Zealand Space Agency, Auckland Space Institute, Callaghan Innovation, Outset Ventures, Auckland Unlimited, and Auckland Aerospace.

 

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