Chemistry students at Carnegie Mellon and ITESM collaborate to help NASA and IMP design a next-generation fuel system for a mission to Mars.

Problem Description

Physics Report

Chemistry Report

Communications Memo


Virtual Laboratory

Orbital Simulator

Launch Simulator

Welcome to Mission Critical Chemistry, where students at Carnegie Mellon and ITESM collaborate in teams to develop a next-generation fuel system for a mission to Mars.

NASA has recently developed a set of powerful reductants, and IMP has developed a set of powerful oxidants. The goal of this mission is to identify a reductant/oxidant pair that can serve as a fuel for a Mars mission.  Neither CMU nor ITESM has all of the information needed to solve the problem, and for international security reasons, these components can not change hands. You must work with your international colleagues to design experiments to solve the mission, as explained in the Problem Description to the left. Below you will find guidelines and objectives to complete on Tuesday, March 23rd:

  • You will need to download AOL Instant Messenger if you don't already have it and get a screen name for chatting with your international partners (your chat will be monitored by Mission Control). You can do both of these things here:

  • After that, send an email to your international colleagues following the guidelines in the communications memo.

  • Your next step is to charactarize your fuels. To do this, determine the enthalpy of reaction between your three fuels and the standard oxidant. You may find the chemistry report to be of use. (The information at may also be of use.)

Then on Thursday, March 25 we'll meet again to determine the flight parameters and launch the rocket.

If at any point you need help, send us an email.

Funded by the NSF
and the CMU
International Committee

2000-2003, Last Modified: 10.17.2003