Outer Space Meets Inner Space in Touching Triton Online Game

Technology Companies Team Up to Teach Students What it Takes to Protect Astronauts in Deep Space

Triton Student Game

The possibility of human travel to deep space is generating excitement around the world. Lockheed Martin and HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology are harnessing that excitement to inspire the next generation of scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians. Today’s students will turn that possibility into reality, whether it’s a nine-month voyage to Mars or a twenty-year mission to Neptune’s moon, Triton.   

Space travel encompasses more than just the spacecraft and the launch. There are also teams dedicated to keeping astronauts safe and monitoring their well-being – from protecting them from space radiation to making sure they exercise and eat right on the journey.

With shared goals of inspiring the next generation and protecting astronauts in deep space, Lockheed Martin has committed $50,000 over the past four years to HudsonAlpha, the creators of a free online educational activity called Touching Triton®. Students who play the online game build an understanding of common complex disease risk, influenced by factors from family history, environment and genomic data. Players synthesize data from these sources to inform lifestyle choices and medical intervention strategies in the setting of a long-duration space flight mission.

Triton Game Screen Shot

Screen shot from online educational activity Touching Triton®.

“It is an exciting game that gets kids involved in space exploration and the genomics that go into keeping astronautics safe,” said Jim Rogers, Lockheed Martin vice president of Government Affairs. “Our support of HudsonAlpha and Touching Triton is a great way to invest in inspiring, exciting and educating kids about deep space.”

Touching Triton brings together the excitement of outer space with the field of human genomics – a discipline that HudsonAlpha vice president of Education Dr. Neil Lamb calls inner space.

Lockheed Martin presented the 2016 contribution, a $20,000 grant to the HundsonAlpha Foundation, at an event at the Space and Missile Defense Symposium in Huntsville, Alabama. Since 2015, more than 5,000 students in the Southeastern United States have completed the game. The 2016 grant will help HudsonAlpha bring Touching Triton to students, educators and parents around the country. “We are grateful to Lockheed Martin for partnering with us to take Touching Triton to the next level,” Dr. Lamb said.

Triton Partnership

“The HudsonAlpha team has put many hours and lots of heart and soul into creating Touching Triton,” said Dr. Adam Hott, HudsonAlpha’s project manager for Touching Triton. “And Lockheed Martin has been with us on this four-year journey.”

Touching Triton was nominated for a national Serious Games Showcase & Challenge Award in 2015 and was featured in the national educational journal American Biology Teacher this year. The activity was made possible by grants from Lockheed Martin and a Science Education Partnership Award from the National Institutes of Health. Learn more and play the game at triton.hudsonalpha.org.