Space Challenge 2023-24

Space for Planet Earth Challenge 2023-24

We are pleased to announce that Methane Mavericks from Newham, Australia and University of Otago Team won the Grand Prize Awards for the High School and University/Startup Categories of the competition. Read the press release here.


The six teams that competed in the Finals were:

High School Level

  • Methane Mavericks – Kyneton High School & Maryborough Education Centre, Newham, Australia (Video)
  • Cashmere Space Club – Cashmere High School, Christchurch, New Zealand (Video)
  • Usbong Me – University of the Philippines High School, Iloilo, Philippines (Video)

University/Startup Level

  • University of Otago – Dunedin, New Zealand (Video)
  • Project AIM: Rizal Technological, Caraga State, and Adamson Universities – Metro Manila and Butuan Cities, Philippines (Video)
  • Interstellar Exploration Institute and Macquarie University – Sydney, Australia (Video)

Watch the six teams  pitch and the awards ceremony below.


The goal of the Challenge is to use space technologies to find new and innovative solutions to address climate change issues in New Zealand, Australia, and the Pacific Islands.

Apply and you could win up to NZ$25,000 in cash and mentorship support to further your research.  The Challenge is open to individuals and teams living in New Zealand, Australia and the Pacific Islands (including the Philippines). 

Full Applications will be open from November 2023 – 25 February 2024 for a chance to be short-listed for the finals. Three finalists will be invited to compete for the grand prize awards for each category.  

The Challenge

Using satellite data, in combination with other data sources, help develop scientific methods to identify target areas of methane emissions on Earth.

Methane is a strong greenhouse gas, and the monitoring and control of methane emissions is a vital component of efforts to reduce and mitigate the effects of climate change.

Strong methane emissions primarily occur from leaks from petrochemical extraction and industrial processing operations. But globally, the challenge is to identify methane emissions from weaker sources such as livestock and agriculture operations, landfills, and natural emissions from sources including wetlands and coastal areas.

Methane monitoring from space currently uses the Sentinel 5P spacecraft (at low spatial resolution) as well as recent results from GHGsat, Sentinel 2, and the EMIT instrument.

These sensors have picked up strong methane emissions, but the next challenge is to identify target locations to detect sources of weaker methane emissions. Target areas are needed in preparation for the launch of MethaneSAT (jointly sponsored by the US Environmental Defence Fund and the New Zealand government).

To fully account for global methane emissions, which areas should be targeted for the different types of sources? Are there other satellite sensors which can be applied to the problem of identifying these target areas, or detecting the weaker methane emissions? Are there specific areas that will offer advantages for calibration?

This challenge invites teams to develop tools to help in the global effort to monitor and control methane emissions, and directly contribute to the fight against climate change.


University/Startup and High School Levels

The Prize

University/Startup Level       
Grand Prize:     $25,000 NZD plus 6 months SpaceBase mentorship (online) 

Finalists:     $2,500 NZD 

High School Level       

Grand Prize:     $8,000 NZD

Finalists:     $1,000 NZD


Challenge Timeline

Initial Proposal Deadline:  31 August 2023 (Submissions open 18 May 2023)

Online Research Incubator:  October 2023 – February 2024 (Dec/Jan Break)

Final Application Deadline:  25 February 2024

Final Pitch and Awards Event:  15 March 2024 (Auckland,TBC)

For Inquiries – contact us at [email protected]

Space Challenge Incubator Teams



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