Under the program, space enthusiasts will have the opportunity to control NASA robots inside the International Space Station (ISS) as part of the newly-expanded Zero Robotics competition.
The University of Sydney has for the last three years supported high school students from across NSW in this computer programming challenge, as part of the university's STEM outreach activities.
In Australia, the competition, which is free for high schools students to participate in, has grown significantly each year, from 10 school teams participating in 2015-16, to 55 teams participating in the 2017-18 competition, all from NSW.
For the 2018-19 competition, the University of Sydney has expanded the competition again, this time beyond NSW’s borders.
"We are thrilled to open up the competition to schools from across Australia – this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for students to control robots in space," said University of Sydney executive director of space engineering Warwick Holmes.
"Over the past three years, we’ve seen NSW schools perform particularly well in the competition – with many of the schools making it through to the finals, where they have had the exciting opportunity to participate in a final run in zero gravity in the ISS with assistance from the astronauts on board."
Current University of Sydney engineering and information technologies students will mentor the high school students virtually, providing online resources and ongoing training throughout the year.
Over nine months, mentors will guide the teams through the process of learning the computer code, maths and physics behind the motion of the robots. The Zero Robotics competition will kick off in term 2 this year, with the final championship event on board the ISS to be held in early 2019.