Description | Award | Guidelines | Schedule | Contact | Sponsors | Past Winners

Never has there been a better time to study Near-Earth Objects (NEOs). Astronomers worldwide are on constant look out for undiscovered asteroids and comets. New tools have allowed the discovery of a great number of such objects in the past two decades. While large-asteroid events capable of causing species extinction on Earth are rare, experts are increasingly concerned about their likelihood. Far more common objects between 10 and 100 meters large, such as those responsible for the recent Tunguska and Chelyabinsk events, can cause significant damage and loss of life, making detection and preparedness efforts all the more pressing. In addition, worldwide interest in missions to NEOs for human and/or robotic exploration and for resource utilization is growing.



The competition challenges students and young professionals worldwide to develop original ideas relating to Near-Earth Objects. We invite technical paper submissions addressing one or more of the topics below:

  • Safe deflection of an Earth-bound NEO

  • NEO study, characterisation and detection

  • Global NEO impact warning system

  • NEO resource utilisation

  • Proposals and concepts for NEO missions aiming at planetary defence, exploration, and/or resource utilisation

  • NEO impact consequences

  • NEO education programs and strategies

Entrants should describe in technical detail an idea that could lead to an improvement or innovation in any of the topic areas above. They should consider the use of current or realistic near-future technologies in their design. Entrants are not required to use specific asteroids and thus may make assumptions about likely asteroid compositions, densities and trajectories. Submissions should show originality, practicality, and familiarity with the technical literature and provide a clear written description of the concept. Submissions should be technical in content. Entrants should attempt to understand the scientific, engineering, and social challenges involved.  Submissions on planetary defense should also recognize that most threats likely to occur within the next 100 years are from small NEOs.



The main author of the winning paper will receive an award of up to 2000 USD in order to attend and give a presentation at the following events:

The award will include provisions for travel, accommodation, and registration for SGC and IAC.



  1. The language of all submissions must be English.
  2. The paper should conform to the rules for submissions to the IAC (including font, font size, page margin, picture, etc.), and not exceed 10 pages in length. A template can be downloaded here.
  3. The paper must include original content and research. Work that has already been published at a past IAC or previously submitted to this competition is not eligible.
  4. The paper is due as unlocked PDF documents under 5 MB. It shall be submitted via the Scholarships Submission Page. You will need to be logged in as an SGAC member to access this page -
  5. All submissions must be made by 30 April 2017 31 May 2017, 23:59 GMT (extended). Any submissions after the deadline will not be considered.
  6. The competition is open to individuals or teams up to a maximum of three members. In case of a team submission, one member must be identified as the main author and main point of contact, and only one member of the team will be eligible to receive the scholarship.
  7. The competition is open for all students and young professionals from any country. All individuals or team members must be SGAC members 35 years of age or younger by 25 September 2017.
  8. Members of the SGAC Executive Office, Executive Council, competition organisers, and judges are not eligible for this award.
  9. The winning author is required to support the running of SGC, and the SGAC booth at IAC. Examples of tasks could include being the rapporteur of a SGC Working Group, helping with writing a group report or helping at the SGAC booth at IAC.
  10. The winning author is required to give a presentation of his or her paper at SGC and/or IAC. Responsibilities also include attendance during the entire SGC.
  11. The winning author is required to write a short report describing his or her experience at SGC and IAC which will be showcased on the SGAC newsletter.
  12. The award will be paid out after the congress, and upon fulfilment of all requirements in a suitable manner. It will be paid out not later than 30 days after fulfilment of all responsibilities.
  13. By submitting an entry, applicants agree to permit SGAC and other participating organisations to mention their names, affiliations and headshot picture in connection with the competition.
  14. Organisers shall not be responsible in the event that the award winner fails to attend SGC and/or IAC or is unable to under extenuating circumstances; in that case the award offer shall become void.
  15. Organisers shall not be responsible in the event that the award winner cannot obtain any necessary travel documents; if they are required but not obtained, the award offer shall become void.
  16. Copyright of the submitted proposals shall remain with the contestants. However, by submitting an entry all contestants agree that SGAC and other participating organisations are granted non-exclusive reproduction rights regarding all submitted papers. SGAC and/or participating organisations may also present ideas and findings generated by this competition at relevant conferences.



Entries Accepted: Now!
Paper Submission Deadline: 30 April 2017 31 May 2017, 23:59 GMT (extended)
Winners Announced: 31 May 2017 30 June 2017 (extended)
Space Generation Congress: 21 - 23 September 2017
International Astronautical Congress: 25 - 29 September 2017




For any questions, please refer to SGAC Scholarships Coordinator, Michal Kunes and Nicole Chase (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).



SGAC would like to thank A.C. Charania for his support to run this competition.

If you or your organisation is interested in providing talented students and young professionals with the opportunity to share their work and ideas with global space community, please contact the SGAC scholarship coordinators (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).


Past Winners

2016: Simon Molgat Laurin, "A Gravity-Surveying Surface Lander for Near Earth Asteroids" [Paper]

2015: William Crowe, “Opportunistic flyby characterisation of Earth passing asteroids”, [Paper]

2014: Clemens Rumpf, “Global Asteroid Risk Analysis!”, [Paper]

2013: Massimo Vetrisano, "Online Measurement of Very Low-Thrust Deflection Actions", [Paper]

2012: Sung Wook Paek, "A Multi-Functional Paintball Cloud for Asteroid Deflection", [Paper]

2011: Alison Gibbings, "A Smart Cloud Approach to Asteroid Deflection", [Paper]

2010: Ben Corbin, "Implementing Advanced Technologies and Models to Reduce Uncertainty in a Global, Cost-Effective Asteroid Mitigation System", [Paper]

2009: Sini Merikallio, "Moving an Asteroid with Electric Solar Wind Sail", [Paper]

2008: Mary D'Souza, "A Body Solar Sail Concept for the Deflection of 99942 Apophis", [Paper]


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