Focus at Four: A&M team to present NASA with Mars solar power plan

COLLEGE STATION, Tex. (KBTX) - A Texas A&M team from the College of Engineering entered NASA's Big Idea Challenge. Now, they're in the top five.

Teams were tasked with developing a solar plan for potentially manned Mars missions in the future.

"They'll have to be able to power their habitats, their experiments," said Uday Toodi. "So we needed to design some technology or some ideas to generate enough power to sustain those missions."

Toodi and his four teammates landed on umbrella-like devices that would soak up the Sun's power from Mars' surface.

"We had very strict packing requirements from NASA--only ten cubic meters of space," said Joshua Banks, another member of the team. "So we figured that using an umbrella with flexible solar cells would allow us to fit a lot of solar panels in a very small volume."

The Texas A&M team travels to Cleveland this weekend to show off their final designs to NASA. After that, NASA will choose one winner from the five finalists from across the country.

To see a virtual construction of the design and learn more about the project, see the video player above.