Intel Science Talent Search 2010 Finalists


Erika Alden DeBenedictis

Erika Alden DeBenedictis New Mexico

Erika Alden DeBenedictis, 18, of Albuquerque, developed a software navigation system that would allow spacecraft to exploit low-energy orbits for the physics & space sciences project she submitted to the Intel Science Talent Search. According to the NASA-approved Interplanetary Superhighway concept, the gravity and movement of planets create a network of low-energy opportunities that allow for more efficient transit routes through the solar system. Working at home and building on existing research, Erika developed an original optimizing search algorithm that discovers energy minimizing routes in specified regions of space and would allow a spacecraft to adjust its flight path en route. She believes her novel single-step method of repeated orbit refinement could work with essentially autonomous spacecraft, and may be a practical step forward in space exploration. Erika is an accomplished pianist and vocalist at Albuquerque Academy and winner of numerous competitions. In 2009, she was a Davidson Fellow and a first place award winner in the New Mexico Supercomputing Challenge. The daughter of Erik and Beverly DeBenedictis, she hopes to attend Caltech or MIT.


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