The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) and Marvel Entertainment today announced the Guardians of the Galaxy Space Station Challenge is open for American students ages 13-18 to submit microgravity flight experiment concepts that could be conducted on the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory. The contest focuses on Rocket and Groot, characters from the Guardians of the Galaxy comic book franchise, and students are encouraged to develop flight proposals based on the attributes of these Super Heroes. The contest will run through January 31, 2018. After the contest concludes, two student-submitted flight concepts will see their vision turned into reality and become an official ISS National Lab investigation, launching to the space station in 2018.

In 2016, CASIS and Marvel partnered to develop a mission patch featuring Rocket and Groot that represented all ISS National Lab investigations from the calendar year. Now the two entities seek to engage and excite American students by providing a truly unique opportunity to send experiments to the space station inspired by Rocket and Groot in far-reaching scientific areas.

The contest is divided into two separate research opportunities: Team Rocket, and Team Groot. Students with an interest in materials sciences, engineering and enabling technology development are encouraged to submit flight concepts through Team Rocket – Who has strong ties to innovation and engineering. Students interested in fundamental biological and regenerative science concepts are encouraged to submit flight proposals under Team Groot – Who is the embodiment of genetics and plant biology.

The student(s) who submit flight concepts through the challenge will be asked to explain their flight experiment proposal, and ultimately how microgravity has the potential to enhance findings that otherwise can be explored on Earth-based laboratory settings. Additionally, students will be asked to consider the size of their proposal experiment. Winning concepts will be housed in a NanoRacks NanoLab (in partnership with space-based education services provider DreamUp) and Space Tango's TangoLab, which are both project facilities that are currently flying aboard the ISS National Lab and provide investigators the ability to access microgravity for a wide variety of research.

"The ability to partner with a brand as recognizable as Marvel to bring awareness, opportunity and excitement to our nation's students is a great way to bridge the comic book community with the space community to advance Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education," said CASIS Director of Operations and Educational Opportunities Kenneth Shields. "Both Rocket and Groot have characteristics that are researched onboard the ISS daily, and to allow students to propose experiments based on their favorite Super Heroes will be an exciting way to engage our Nation's youth about STEM principles and the space station."

To learn more about this challenge, including previous experiments conducted on the ISS, and how to submit a proposal visit: